Taxpayers have paid nearly €50 million for local authorities and licensed housing associations to rent Nama houses over the past four years.
New figures show that last year 13.3 million euros in government funding went to National Asset Residential Property Services (Narps) for the homes, a significant increase on the previous year and the highest sum paid since 2018.
However, there are concerns about the future of the Narps properties.
The corporation was formed by Nama in 2013 to take ownership of homes purchased by the state’s Bad Bank from debtors and use them as public housing in areas of high housing demand.
These are available to local authorities and licensed housing organizations on 20-year leases.
In many cases, the houses are in housing estates that were unfinished when acquired by Nama and later completed.
Expenditure on leases under the government’s ongoing social housing spending program rose by €2.5 million last year, up from €10.8 million in 2020.
The program funds payments for properties rented by municipalities, licensed housing associations and other entities.
This came after a decline of €12.1 million and €11.1 million in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
This means that 47.4 million euros in government funding have flowed into the homes over the past four years.
Figures prior to 2018 weren’t available because lease charges, which included Narps, were only available on a cumulative or all-in basis prior to that date, the Housing Department said.
Mr Ó Broin said he was concerned about what will happen to Narps and those houses when Nama is disbanded in 2025. According to the Ministry of Housing, the leases have an average remaining term of 15 years.
The Narps portfolio includes 1,372 social housing units.
The government’s Housing for All plan proposes that Narps be transferred to the Land Development Agency (LDA), but Mr Ó Broin has questioned this.
While the LDA coordinates state lands for development or regeneration, it has no role in the administration of social housing.
“I don’t understand why Narps is being transferred to the LDA,” said Mr Ó Broin Sunday independent.
“There are licensed housing associations and local authorities managing these properties, they are best placed to continue managing them.
“What should happen is that when Nama is wound up, the Narps properties should be handed over to the authorized housing authority or the local authority currently managing them and the loan should continue to be repaid by the housing ministry until the debt is fully paid off are recovered.
“The LDA has no role in the provision, management or maintenance of social housing.
“I am very suspicious as to why the Treasury authorized the transfer to the LDA and not to the local authorities and licensed housing corporations who are best qualified to manage these properties.”
The Treasury Department did not respond to questions about Narps’ future, but the Housing Department and the LDA said the portfolio would be transferred to the land agency so it could remain state-owned.
They said the timing of the move could not be confirmed until the attorney general obtained legal advice on the transfer of the portfolio.
However, Mr Ó Broin said other questions remain.
“It just doesn’t make sense for a non-social housing agency to get this unit and these properties. The big question is why, and to date no one has answered that question,” he said.
“The question must be asked, why is Narps transferred to the LDA? What are they going to do with it?
“Are they going to use it to refinance? will they sell it Will they invite private investors for an equity investment?”
The LDA and Department of Housing have not addressed these questions about the future of the portfolio, but said it will continue to be used to provide social housing.
A ministry spokesman said Nama retained ownership of Narps until now “to protect the order of the vehicle for social housing in the future.”
“After working with the Treasury Department and the LDA, who had expressed interest in acquiring Narps, it was decided that Narps would move to the LDA and that policy decision was subsequently incorporated into Housing for All,” the spokesman said.
“The transfer of the Narps portfolio to the LDA State Agency ensures that the portfolio remains state-owned and continues to be used to provide public housing leasing.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/47m-is-paid-to-nama-for-social-housing-leases-41538380.html 47 million euros will be paid to Nama for renting social housing