THE Cabinet has agreed the finer details of the ‘enhanced’ mica redress scheme and grants will be capped at €420,000.
Homeowners will receive €145 per square foot on the first 1,000 feet of a property, with a commitment from the Government that the scheme will take inflation into account, and the per-foot cost will be reviewed every year.
The figure per square foot is expected to drop to €110 per square foot after that threshold is exceeded.
Around 7,000 homes, including 1,000 social houses, are affected by mica and the overall cost of the scheme has been almost tripled from over €800,000 to €2.2 billion.
The scheme is expected to be set up in the first quarter of next year.
Speaking during a press conference, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said homeowners who had to move out of their homes during renovation would be entitled to a maximum of €15,000 to pay for alternative accommodation as well as €5,000 for storage.
Mr O’Brien said, “It is 100 per cent dress. The current 90 per cent maximum will be increased to 100 per cent for all remediation options.
“The maximum grant cap for demolition and rebuild will be increased to €420,000 from €247,500.
“The grant calculation methodology will be based on the cost per square foot of rebuilding the existing home with costings to be set.
“A revised application process will be introduced which will only require the home owner to submit an initial building condition assessment at minimal cost.
“Importantly, this removes any prohibitive costs for entry to the scheme and home owners are no longer expected to pay approximately €6,000 to enter the scheme – that has been a barrier for many.”
Mr O’Brien also explained that alternative costs as an “allowable cost”, subject to a maximum of €20,000 for storage plus accommodation costs.
A letter of guarantee through certification will be provided covering works carried out under remediation options two to five with a second grant option to be available should it be needed.
Mr O’Brien continued, “The certification will give homeowners confidence in the options which are available to them and it was something he was “anxious” to see from the very beginning of this process.”
“A new independent appeals process will be introduced where in a small number of cases where there may be disputes around cost or remediation options.
“The scheme will be extended among the current score of principal private residents.
“It will cover RTB registered rental properties subject to the introduction of a clawback mechanism upon resale within a set time period and depending on the remediation options actually used.
“I also want the state to explore the opportunity to acquire rental houses for social housing purposes,” said Mr O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien said he recognises the toil this has taken on home owners and people have been ‘so badly affected.’ He added there will be enhanced mental health supports that will be made available to people in the affected counties.
The Minister explained that in order to address the culpability and liability, as well as to ensure this does not happen again, a review will be undertaken by a senior counsel into the role of the industry and regulations in generating mica and pyrite issues.
“The National Standards Authority of Ireland will be tasked with a special review of concrete block standards, including engagement with stakeholders and issuing recommendations.
“We will establish on a statutory basis the building standards regulatory authority and we will be bringing forward a separate memo in that regard,” said Mr O’Brien.
The Minister added they are also in the process of introducing an industry levy in 2023 which will result in the sector making a contribution towards the mica redress scheme and other schemes such as apartments with fire defects.
The new levy on the construction sector will bring in around €80m a year from 2023.
In closing, Mr O’Brien said the newly enhanced scheme is in ‘absolute parity’ in approach between the North West (Mica) and the East Coast (Pyrite).
He said, “Government made a commitment to helping home owners and today through the enhanced scheme, we are ensuring they can rebuild their homes and more importantly, their lives which have been so badly impacted by the plight of mica and the defective block,” said Mr O’Brien.
When asked about the cost to the taxpayer, Mr O’Brien said, “The State is making an extraordinary intervention here, there is no question about this,” but he added that “people’s homes are crumbling” and there is a “moral obligation” to urgently help those homeowners.
“I don’t want to ever see this happening again,” Mr O’Brien said.