The enactment of the Home Building Finance Act could help resolve issues that have arisen in housing developments like Bru Na Sionna in Shannon where home owners have been told to pay for remedial work on fire safety defects or face court action.

That’s according to Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey who asked Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe how apartment owners or management companies could apply for loans from the Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) agency to undertake works to address latent defects in buildings.

He was told by Minister Donohoe in the Dáil last week that HBFI has been established as one of a number of measures to address the housing crisis and would provide a source of funding for small to medium sized residential developments on a commercial basis.

“Much progress has been made in preparing HBFI for launch and it is expected that HBFI will commence receiving funding applications towards the end of January 2019. HBFI will be in a position to consider applications from apartment owners and management companies for such funding at that time.”

“In order for HBFI’s activities to comply with State aid rules, it must operate on a commercial basis. This means, for example, that it will not be in a position to offer cheap or subsidised credit. Any funding provided by HBFI will be backed by appropriate security and normal banking terms and conditions will apply,” the Minister explained.

“The funding of remediation works are complex and high risk projects and pose significant issues for lenders in relation to access to appropriate security etc. While HBFI will be open to considering all residential development construction related activity, it is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure that their applications for funding are commercially viable and allow HBFI to remain compliant with State aid rules”, he concluded.

Deputy Carey said that the cost of the remedial work  at Bru na Sionna is estimated at up to €2.25 million. A number of the owners say they don’t have the money and are worried that the full extent of the defects has not been uncovered.

Some of them have received a solicitor’s letters from the estate management company demanding up to €7,000 as a first instalment for the works that have been agreed with the county fire officer.