Council officials in Laois outbid a single parent and a young couple to buy a house

Lynda Kiernan

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Lynda Kiernan

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lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois County Council has outbid hopeful young house buyers

Laois County Council has outbid hopeful young house buyers

Efforts by a single parent and a young couple in Laois to buy a home, failed after Laois County Council outbid them, the council has revealed.

It is partly why Laois County Council is shifting focus more to building than buying homes, in line with government policy and a promise of extra government cash to back it up.

Chief John Mulholland said that bidding on existing homes put them in competition with the public.

“If acquisitions continued, they would be in direct competition with young couples. However acquisitions are a vital part of our armoury,” Mr Mulholland said.

He was speaking at the September monthly meeting of Laois County Council.

Fine Gael Cllr Willie Aird said that the council had won a recent bid against public bidders.

“We bid against a single parent and a young couple. We outbid them. They had already got approval for a loan for that amount,” he said.

Cllr Aird went on to emphasise the need for buying up tracts of land to build new council homes.

“This is why we need landbanks particularly around Portlaoise,” he said.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald was concerned at the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy’s statement that money is being redirected away from acquisitions and into direct build programmes for local authorities and housing bodies.

“I am so disappointed at what’s intended. We wouldn’t have survived here without acquisitions, we would have had no-one at all housed,” she said.

Cllr Caroline Dwane agreed.

However the CEO Mr Mulholland said buying would continue.

“It does not mean acquisitions are going to be stopped, but it means more (new) builds,” he said.

Cash is promised by the government.

“We have a three year programme of building in the county, and I have an assurance from the department to apply for as many schemes as we can, and Part VIIIs will go through. The Census has helped to identify homes to possible use to put into housing supply,” he said.

So far in 2017, the council has bought 28 housing units, and another 15 have sales agreed. Another 17 homes are in conveyancing stage.

The council has also bought the County Hotel on Portlaoise Main Street, and Kingdom Hall in the derelict Hepburn Estate, in efforts to both provide housing and clear dereliction.

In the council construction side, designs for two houses in Hillview Portlaoise, and the site layout design for 22 houses in Ballymorris, Portarlington, are both approved by the Dept for housing. The Portarlington homes are not expected to be ready until 2019.

Six houses for council tenants aged over 50 will be delivered by Cluid housing agency in Droimnín retirement village, Stradbally before Christmas.

There are currently 1575 people waiting on the Laois council housing list, an increase of 200 since last February.