Householders pass up on Council scheme to relocate to smaller homes

Galway County Council has a scheme for homeowners over 60 who want to downsize – but to date nobody has ever taken it up.

The Council in their pursuit to increase their housing stock is looking to acquire houses in rural Galway by offering people a tenancy agreement in another property.

The scheme is open to anyone aged over 60 who find their private dwelling is too large for their housing needs but will be prioritised if the property is unfit, or need to move housing on medical or compassionate grounds, or in the opinion of the Council are not able to financially meet the cost of maintenance and upkeep of their own house.

Owners aged between 60 and 69 contribute a third of the net proceeds of the sale of the house (excluding the mortgage discharge as well as legal and administrative fees) to the Council.

People aged between 70 and 79 contribute one quarter while people aged 80 years and over contribute one fifth.

Cllr Noel Thomas was a lone voice when he suggested that it appeared to him the scheme would cost the Council money and he proposed some changes to the existing scheme, which would include buying the house outright from the senior citizens.

Michael Owens, Director of Service for Housing explained that it wasn’t the purpose of the Council to take from the housing stock but to add to it or indeed compete with first time house buyers.

He did state that nobody had applied to the Downsizing Scheme since it was introduced a number of years ago.