Heather Oakes, her husband Daniel Oakes and their son Oran Oakes PICTURE: Arthur Kinahan
Dundalk mum-of-three Heather Oakes has told the Democrat that her family has been left with no hope of buying their current rental property after learning that the Rebuilding Ireland Loan is no longer available.
Under the program, first-time buyers who had been refused mortgages by two banks were eligible to avail of a Government-backed mortgage from their local authority for up to 90% of the market value of the property.
However, Louth Housing Director Paddy Donnelly confirmed during the Dundalk Municipal District meeting last week that Louth County Council had been given directives to cease issuing loans under the program, despite a statement from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government stating that the scheme is in “full operation”.
Ms. Oakes explained the couple's situation, both of whom are self-employed, saying: “We were getting our application ready but have been told not to bother by the local authority. Two years ago our rent was raised by 15 percent, and we've been informed that it will go up by 25 percent from April 1.
“To put that into perspective, we will be paying 25 percent more in rent per month and have been refused a mortgage with repayments which are significantly less than the rental payments every month. Our landlord is doing his best, but he's under pressure too.
“It's a waste of money and now we’re stuck in limbo. We want to pay towards owning our own place instead of renting. There is no protection for private renters in Louth.
“We've been advised to get our application ready in case the loan becomes available again. But there is no timeline and we can't get on a waiting list.”
Ms. Oakes concluded: “We had a chance at getting our foot on the property ladder and it's been taken away from us. It sounded too good to be true and it was. It’s very frustrating.”
The Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme which has been running since February 1, 2018, and was supposed to be available until 2020, was intended to help first-time buyers get a foot on the property ladder.
Concerns have been raised that a lack of funding was the reason for the cessation of the loans after it emerged that the Government has already approved more than 25 percent of the nationwide €200 million fund.