Granny flat grants could spark wars..

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Ever eyed up your mother-in-law’s detached period home? Sitting on an acre in a leafy suburb? Lofted hall features, a graceful original staircase- whatever about the potential out the back.

Why she can’t just, well give it to you? After all, she spends most of her time in the kitchen, never heats the place. Even on Christmas Day all you get is a gas heater and some deckchairs in the living room. The things you could do with that attic.

It’s unfair isn’t it? I mean why should the elderly have big old houses, and not us. Especially as they’re not making use of space. We get the dregs. The overpriced one beds for a family of four in a new build.

Luckily Senator Ross has a solution. ‘Granny flat grants,’ are aimed at meeting the needs of older people by splitting their homes into two separate units.

The grants would be great for “converting under-occupied family homes” into “self-contained ground floor accommodation suitable for the needs of the older home owner” while the upstairs area would become available for lodgers or be made available for family.

It’s not a bad idea, but I fear it could be open to abuse.

Just think of the family feuds. Parents in their early 70s getting eked out by their kids and their families. Childless siblings not getting a look in. “Well you don’t have kids, we need it more.”

Parents in their prime, wondering why they’re stuck in the garden flat with no sunlight when they still like to listen to Led Zeppelin from time to time and now have to listen to the pitter patter of toddler feet on the wooden floors above.

I’m being devil’s advocate here, but these things do need to be considered, if the grand becomes available. We don’t know the terms and the financials have yet to be trashed out, but very often, when you mix property, family, money and inheritance in a giant cauldron, the perfect storm bubbles and thickens as though one had stirred a roux of cornflour and butter into it.

‘Our family is lovely and we look after our elderly parents without such battles.’ Of course, but blood could be spilled down the line. Family feuds aren’t isolated things.

Obviously the person moving in, has to have a secure tenancy, otherwise things get really tricky. Then there’s the issue of care. Will they get all care responsibility, because other siblings will see it as a fair exchange for getting to live in the family home? Everyone is right and everyone is wronged. All is fair in love and the property war after all.

Also, its assumed that granny or grandad will have their lives uprooted without a fight. Sure it’s cheaper than nursing homes, where the elderly are often not cared for properly, but the older we get, the more we get stuck in our ways and upheaval can cause untold stress.

My German granny scared off her lodgers, and didn’t want to go to an old people’s home, so we cared for her until she passed away.

What really needs to be addressed in Ireland is decent homecare. The national queue for people awaiting HSE Homecare has climbed to more than  6,100, with Mayo, Roscommon and Galway counties having in excess of 1,500 people on a waiting list for home help or home care packages.

I look forward to the day when the ’empty-nest’ pensioners aren’t targeted yet again, in another display of granny economics. It seems, in Ireland, a country, which proudly boasts that its first in so many things, the populous can’t stand on its own feet, and ultimately need granny to sort us out with everything from homes to childcare.

Is Ireland that small Do we live in Gaza? Belgium is smaller, and Luxembourg. The average rent in Luxembourg is the same as Ireland and yet, people have a very high quality of life there, and they can just afford to live down the road or beside their ageing parents. Obviously, the way rents are going, we can no longer do that.

We sell ourselves as a global player, but no one can afford a house, unless they stumbled upon one back in the 1960s for €2000.

Its called progress. Soon we may embrace the idea of the coffin flats they have in Hong Kong, -hey are practical after all.

One can’t help being cynical. I always see these schemes as slightly tokenistic, what with the election coming up and the middle class earner, who can’t afford a house needs to vote for someone.
 
Many will benefit from the scheme no doubt as nursing home costs could be spared, as could capital costs and the home remains with family, but wouldn’t it be nice to just also have the option of your own home close to your parents too.

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