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Voluntary housing

Voluntary Housing provides rented accommodation to those qualifying for social housing support,  which are facilitated by Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), and have been approved by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) under section 6 (6) of the Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1992.

AHBs are not-for-profit organisations whose purpose is the provision and management of housing for people who cannot afford private sector rents,  or those who have a special housing need such as the elderly, homeless and people with disabilities etc. Recognising the importance of AHBs, the statutory framework in Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 enables local authorities to assist AHBs in the provision of housing, and they do so under the following funding schemes.

Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF)

CALF is a loan facility, which is exclusively available to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to assist them in financing acquisition, construction or refurbishment projects that will deliver homes to be made available for social housing support purposes. .

The Capital Advance Leasing Facility: 

  • Provides AHBs, with a small capital advance in the form of a loan. The loan is funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) and made available by Local Authorities to AHBs. 
  • Is awarded to assist with  a construction or acquisition project where the AHB enters into a  Payment and Availability (P&A) agreement with the Local Authority for a long-term rental agreement of up to 30 years.
  • Does not require repayments on the loan (capital advance) during the term of the P&A agreement but the amount owed, plus interest (which is currently 2%), remains outstanding at the end of the agreement.

Since its introduction in 2011, this form of funding has become the main enabler of new delivery by AHBs in Ireland which were traditionally funded by direct capital grant from the Department. 

How CALF works


  • Proposes to purchase or construct properties using private or Housing Finance Agency (HFA) finance and receive payments under the terms of a P&A Agreement.
  • Applies for a capital advance (CALF loan) from the DHLGH/Local Authority. The CALF loan is available for up to a maximum of 30% of eligible capital costs. A minimum of 25% CALF will be approved for all projects.

The AHB enters into two separate agreements with the local authority:

  • Payment and Availability Agreement  (P&A Agreement) specifies the conditions under which the properties will be made available for the term of the agreement. It also sets out the payment and availability payment amount and frequency and manner of the payment review. The CAA may commence before the P&A Agreement is entered into and the loan will run until the P&A agreement ends.
  • Capital Advance Agreement  stipulating the terms and conditions that apply to the loan and includes the repayment conditions. The loan is unsecured and is a contract debt under the Capital Advance Agreement (CAA).

A Continuation Agreement may also be required. This is a tri-party agreement where the AHB has acquired or constructed properties using finance borrowed from a lending institution, the lending institution may require that the local authority, the AHB and the lending institution enter a Continuation Agreement.  This agreement sets out what will happen in the event that the AHB is wound up during the term or defaults on its loan with the lender.  The lending institution retains its right to seek vacant possession of the properties under the terms of the mortgage.

Key criteria for approval under CALF

  • AHB must be approved for finance from the HFA and be able to demonstrate access to private finance.
  • AHB must demonstrate value for money.


Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS)

This Scheme is designed for the provision of rented accommodation for those with special needs i.e. elderly, disabled (including those leaving congregated settings and moving into community-based accommodation), homeless etc. 

The council may advance non-repayable loans to Approved Housing Bodies to cover the cost of provision of these units with a registered charge on the property and repayments written down over the period of the loan, subject to the AHB complying with the terms of the scheme. In this case all lettings must be made to persons who are on the council's housing waiting list.


Clare County Council will assess proposed projects using the following criteria:

  • The extent to which it meets the housing needs in County Clare.
  • Value for money as the proposal must be cost effective, sustainable and fit-for-purpose.
  • The capacity of the AHB to deliver new projects in a good timeframe, especially if they already have approved projects that are not will advanced.
  • All applications must comply with the  terms of the CAS scheme as per Memorandum VHU 2/02 and in accordance with relevant circulars issued by the Department.
  • The extent to which the proposal supports specific priority objectives in relation to provision of accommodation for care leavers and national strategies for people with disabilities.
  • Confirmation of the availability of supports services from other agencies e.g. HSE, Tusla etc. 

Mortgage to Rent

The Mortgage to Rent (MTR) scheme permits those struggling with mortgage repayments to switch from owning their own home to renting it as a social housing tenant, provided they meet the criteria for qualifying for social housing.

Under the scheme, an Approved Housing Body (AHB) or a private company approved by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage purchases the home in question from the lender and rents it back to the tenant based on an affordable rent.

To qualify for the mortgage-to-rent scheme, your mortgage, home and household must meet the eligibility criteria below:

  • In general, your property must be in negative equity. However, a property with a small amount of positive equity can be included in the scheme. The limit on the amount of positive equity allowed in County Clare is €30,000;
  • Your property must suit your needs – you must not be over or under-accommodated. However, the mortgage-to-rent scheme allows your home to have 2 more bedrooms than specified for your family size in the local authority guidelines. There is some flexibility on this for older people and people with disabilities;
  • The property must not exceed a certain value and in Co. Clare the limit is €345,000 for a house and €230,000 for an apartment or townhouse,
  • Your household must qualify for social housing support in County Clare. You must apply for social housing before submitting an application to the MTR scheme. You must not own any other property or have assets in excess of €20,000. You must have a long-term right to remain in the State.

If an Approved Housing Body buys your home, they will own it and be your landlord and if a private company approved by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage buys your home you become a tenant of the Local Authority. Changing your status from owner to tenant of your home involves a complex set of legal and financial arrangements, all of which must be signed off before the transfer of property takes place and you must get legal and financial advice before the mortgage-to-rent process can go ahead.

The role of Clare County Council will be to assess if applicants qualify for social housing support to access the MTR scheme. Clare County Council will also be asked to provide their views on housing need in the locality, market rents and  the suitability of the property given the household composition. If the application proceeds, Clare County Council will also sign the property’s lease or availability agreement with the Approved Housing Body or approved private company.

More information on the MTR scheme can be found at:


Housing Units are also available for social housing purposes under Voluntary Leasing arrangements where Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) who have leased units from a private owner/develop and have signed long term rental agreements of at least 10 years and have also signed Payment & Availability Agreements with Local Authorities.

Under Housing for All, the government has committed to ending long-term leasing of social housing by Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies by the end of 2025 and focusing on new-build social homes provided by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies.

No new leasing arrangements with AHBs have been agreed in County Clare since March 2021. In County Clare there are currently 85 housing units under AHB Voluntary Leasing arrangements.

Capital Loan Subsidy Scheme (CLSS)

The CLSS commenced in 1991 to provide mortgage finance to Approved Housing Bodies by way of loans from the local authorities, to meet the cost of providing social rented accommodation for low-income families. The scheme terminated in 2009 for new approvals.

There are currently 89 housing units in County Clare under existing schemes. 

Communal facility grants

These grants are in addition to the grants already approved under the Capital Assistance Scheme by the Minister for the provision, by approved voluntary housing bodies, of accommodation for elderly, homeless and persons with disabilities.

The financial assistance covers up to 90% of the costs of providing the facilities, or €7,500 for each unit of living accommodation, whichever is the lesser. The works covered include the provision of communal dining/kitchen facilities, laundries, sitting/activity areas and other facilities reasonably required to improve the residents' living conditions. Where practicable and compatible with the needs of the residents of the approved body's housing accommodation the communal facilities should also be used to serve local community needs (e.g. meals-on-wheels, recreation and social services etc.)

Further information

We welcome applications for assistance from interested Housing bodies. Further information on the schemes is available from the Voluntary Housing Team. Contact details are on this page.

The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) is the national social housing federation representing housing associations in Ireland. They can assist with details on how to become an Approved Housing Body for the purposes of Voluntary Housing as well as ongoing assistance with governance etc. The ICSH can be contacted as follows:

50 Merrion Square East,
Dublin 2,
Telephone: (01) 661 8334
Fax: (01) 661 0320 || E mail:

Page last reviewed: 21/09/23

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Voluntary Housing
Housing and integration department
Clare County Council
Áras Contae an Chláir
New Road
Co. Clare
V95 DXP2
(065) 6846564
Opening hours
Monday - Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and by appointment only from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
More details and map