Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
776. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has instructed all local authorities to enter into negotiations seeking discounts in rent when engaging in the acquisition of rental accommodation scheme properties; the savings that have been made to date in respect of local authorities within County Louth; the guidelines for circumstances where negotiations in reduction of rents fail with said landlords; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18032/12]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): One of the main features of the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is that local authorities, in sourcing accommodation for households, enter into contractual arrangements with private sector landlords to secure medium to long-term availability of rented accommodation.
The level of rents payable under RAS is determined by negotiations between the landlord and the local authority, taking account of rent supplement levels and local market conditions. In negotiating with landlords to bring properties into RAS, local authorities obtain reductions on existing rents where possible. Guidance which has issued by my Department advises that a discount of at least 8% below market rent is recommended.
As part of their negotiation process, local authorities may agree, at their discretion, periodic rent reviews with landlords in line with the prevailing market conditions at the time. My Department has issued guidance to authorities advising them to ensure that rent reviews are undertaken where provided for and also advising authorities of the need to obtain value for money and have regard to local market conditions when entering into new agreements.
The achievement of value for money is the primary focus of authorities when negotiating costs and other associated terms and conditions provided for in agreements under the Scheme. Information in relation to the value of savings made resulting from negotiated contracts entered into by individual local authorities is not available in my Department.
A Value for Money and Policy Review has been carried out on the RAS which provides general information on discounts achieved based on a sample of local authorities; the sample does not include Louth authorities. This study will be available shortly.
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