Landlords are to be closely monitored to ensure that tenants are not evicted on the pretext of retrofitting being carried out, according to Green party leader Eamon Ryan.
“This has to be regulated (the retrofitting scheme) so that landlords don’t use it this way,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
Under plans rubberstamped by the Cabinet on Tuesday, homeowners will be able to apply for grants to cover up to half of the cost for a deep retrofit of their homes, with the scheme aiming to retrofit almost a third of the country’s housing stock by 2030.
Mr Ryan said the situation will be “constantly monitored” to ensure that landlords are not using the scheme to “in effect” evict tenants.
He also said that the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) website had been overwhelmed overnight since the retrofit grant scheme was announced. The public were interested. “People want to do the right thing.”
The vast majority of retrofitting could be carried out externally, Mr Ryan said, so people would not have to leave their homes. In situations where it was necessary and people were in social housing, then local authorities would assist.
The retrofitting scheme was something that would improve homes, he said. Not alone would there be an economic benefit, there was also the health benefit from the comfort of a warm home. “That is transformative,” he said.
There was a variety of grants available and it would take up to three decades to retrofit the 1.5 million homes in the country that needed to be retrofitted. The target was half a million homes per decade.
The country’s housing stock had changed in the 1970s when homes began to introduce central heating, Mr Ryan said, and this was a similar “switch”.
This is tackling the problem at source
Mr Ryan acknowledged that it could take 10 to 20 years for the cost of retrofitting to be paid back, but there would be “huge benefits” with the increased value of a home.
The increase in the number of "one-stop shops" for retrofitting, which could coordinate all the details including accessing loans, would be of benefit, he said.
While “no one is being forced to do it”, the scheme made economic sense, said the Minister for the Environment and Climate. “This is the best way to address the issue.” He expects to see an “exponential increase” in the level of interest in retrofitting.
“This is tackling the problem at source.”
Mr Ryan also defended the carbon tax, saying that the funding from it would go towards schemes such as retrofitting. “This is good economics.” It made sense and would improve the quality of life and was something that needed to be done, he said.