Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten has called for action to make it easier for nursing home residents to rent out their home.
Every year up to 4,500 people leave behind an empty home when they enter long-term nursing home care, but the local TD said that only 400 of these homes are leased out.
Naughten said there is something wrong when so few of these homes are leased out, particularly when the State places a financial charge against the value of any of these homes if that older person does not have any cash savings.
“The reason so many of these houses are left empty is because we have a perverse rule under the Fair Deal Nursing Home Support Scheme that sees the older person charged on three separate occasions if they decide to lease out their home after they enter a nursing home,” he said.
“This is effectively three forms of tax, which together act as a massive barrier to the release of these homes onto the rental market and many of them are family homes close to schools and services.”
Deputy Naughten acknowledged that Government has acted on this issue by reducing from 80% to 40% the amount of rental income included in the calculation.
But he said there is still a treble tax on renting out these homes, on top of the requirements placed on all other landlords.
“This is because the Department of Health fears the removal of the treble tax could lead to the premature entry of older people into nursing homes.
“As a result up to 4,000 additional family homes every year get closed up while young families are being forced into emergency accommodation.”