We are the Abhaile Project. Officially we are the Abhaile Project trading as Ava Housing. In February 2019, on the completion of our pilot project, we changed our trading name to Ava Housing to reflect the new phase of the project.
Ava Housing is an innovative new smart ageing solution to reconfigure family sized homes in a way that can evolve to meet homeowner’s needs, whilst simultaneously creating a new rental unit within the house.
The key is simplicity! Our base case design proposal splits a standard 3 bed semi-detached into two zones within the one dwelling. The idea is to support older homeowners through the process of adapting their home and to continue supporting and managing the sharing of the home.
Ava Housing is for Older Homeowners. Ava Housing is a not for profit organisation designed to help meet the needs of an ageing population while also creating more rental accommodation.
We are not being too prescriptive on the age of the homeowner. Our target market is homeowners in their 60s and early 70s. We believe that it is most suited to people who are looking to prepare for their future needs so this will come at different stages for different people.
The Rent-a-Room Relief was introduced by Revenue with the aim of increasing the availability of residential accommodation.
Further to an increase in the recent budget, from 2017 a homeowner can earn up to €14,000p.a. tax free from renting out part of their home. It is worth noting, however, that the €14,000p.a. limit serves as an absolute cap on gross rental income (i.e. before the deduction of expenses). Where a homeowner earns €14,001p.a., the entire sum would be taxable in the normal manner and the entire Rent-a-Room relief would be not applicable.
Revenue guidance note 7.1.32 sets out that a self-contained unit within a homeowner’s principal private residence would qualify for the relief. Where the self-contained unit is not ‘attached’ to the house, however, it does not qualify.
A house reconfigured under the Ava Housing scheme would qualify for Rent-a-Room Relief if it satisfies the following conditions:
- the owner occupies the property as their main or sole dwelling;
- the renter is neither a child of nor an employee of the homeowner; and
- the title deeds are not split into two distinct properties.
Pension – If you are in receipt of a State Pension (Non-Contributory) or a Widow’s Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-Contributory) Pension and you would be living alone unless you rented out a room in your home, then there will be no impact on your entitlements.
Social Welfare – If you are getting a means tested social assistance payment from the Department of Social Protection then the rental income will be assessed as means and may affect your payment.
Currently the income arising from the home share is considered in calculating eligibility for a homeowners Medical Card or GP Visit card. On this basis, we believe that some homeowners who would otherwise greatly benefit from participating in the scheme may be disincentivised from participating.
We intend to advocate to the HSE to request that the National Assessment Guidelines make provision for home-sharing rental income to be deemed non-assessable.
We will keep you updated. As each case is different it may not personally affect your entitlement. If this is a concern please still register your interest and we can review it with you.
The Process Questions
Initial Build Cost
The retrofit cost is estimated to be in the region of €45,000. Ava Housing is aiming to assist homeowners to cover a substantial proportion of this cost through grants and funding generated from rental income.
The homeowner will enter into a standard membership agreement with Ava Housing. Ava Housing will be in charge of collecting rents and passing them on to the homeowner less an agreed 10% management fee.
Homeowners may want additional upgrades and works over the standard design package. This can be arranged with the nominated design team and contractor but will be at the cost of the homeowner, however the project manager will still be able to help negotiate and plan these extras.
The idea is that you will not require planning permission and all the works will fall under exempted development. We are currently talking to the various city and county councils in relation to this as we want to establish a clear method of verifying this with the council on a case by case basis. It is very important to us that the design does not require planning as this may lead to other requirements that make the project less attractive.
Homeowner & Licensee Questions
There are two agreements. The first is the ‘Services Agreement’ which is between the homeowner and Ava Housing. This is the agreement to adapt the home to your needs while creating a new unit within the home. Ava Housing is there to manage these building works and facilitate the homeowner in adapting their home. The other phase of our service is finding a suitable person to rent the unit and managing that arrangement.
The second agreement is the ’Licence Agreement’ which is between the homeowner and the renter. This will outline the fee, the period of house sharing and the obligations of both parties. Again, we will manage this including collecting the rent and managing any disputes or issues. 10% of the rental income will go to Ava Housing to help with the running costs.
Yes, of course. As part of the service provided by Ava Housing we will be making provisions for background vetting and screening of potential occupants. The homeowner will have the last say. Time will be spent in making sure that homeowners and renters are well matched and happy with the living arrangements.
The Licence Agreement is between the homeowner and the renter. In the event of the owner vacating the property for any reason, such as moving into full-time residential care or death, the licence will expire as per the agreement. This gives the licensee two months’ notice or to the end of the licence period, whichever comes first. The licensee does not have any claim on the home or any effect on the inheritance of the home.
We would encourage family members and close friends of the homeowner to be engaged in the process from the start so that they can also provide support to the homeowner and get to know the renter.
This is an owner-occupier scheme so at the point where you no longer live in the house the house is intended to revert back into a family home.
Where a dispute arises Ava Housing will facilitate resolution. If the Ava Housing can not resolve the issue directly they may use the assistance of a local mediation service. Ava Housing will be the main point of contact for the homeowner and the renter so that all issues and worries can be handled through us.
This will be on a case by case basis but as a general guidance, the bills are to be included in the monthly rent/fee. An agreed amount in the fee will cover bills. In order to monitor fair usage there will be a smart meter in the house to allow the monitoring of the usage, where it is practicable. If the licensee is using gas and electricity that is in excess of the agreement then this can be monitored and dealt with by Ava Housing.
The utilities however will not be separately metered and billed as the house remains as a single unit. This means that the house can be easily adapted back to a family home in the future as required.
The will be on as case by case basis depending on the current service to the home. In some situations households purchase bags or stickers so they pay for each bag collection in advance. In this situation the renter will be able to look after their own bins. However in other suburban situations households use wheelie bins. The fair sharing of these bins will have to be worked out in the licence agreement. For example it may be considered that 50% of the capacity is for the renter and 50% for the homeowner or the homeowner may opt to get an additional bin.