Ireland has an ageing population, with a very high incidence of home ownership. Over 160,000 older homeowners are living alone in family-sized houses, with some in mature, well serviced, urban locations. For many of those homeowners, while their house is their greatest asset, it may also give rise to significant expense.
In the context of an affordable housing crisis, The Abhaile Project came up with the idea of a tailored solution for older homeowners to modify their family-sized homes to create a new rental unit. The aim is to generate additional retirement income for the homeowner, while helping alleviate the housing shortage by producing new rental capacity from existing housing stock.
During the early stages of development, The Abhaile Project came to PILA for assistance with a number of questions concerning the legal relationship between the homeowner and the renter. Through the Pro Bono Referral Scheme, Arthur Cox provided a range of advice to ensure the design of the rental unit would fall under the rent-a-room scheme, on the licence agreement and the impact on inheritance rights.
According to founder of The Abhaile Project, Michelle Moore, “The intervention of PILA and the willingness of Arthur Cox to provide pro bono legal support has been a key milestone along our path. The availability of specialist legal expertise was essential in helping us to develop our innovative new housing solution. We are incredibly grateful for the generous support provided to us.”
Commenting on the project, Brian O’Gorman, Managing Partner at Arthur Cox, said: “As part of the firm’s on-going commitment to providing access to pro bono work, Arthur Cox was pleased to provide legal advice on The Abhaile Project. One of the key pillars of the firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme is pro bono work. To assist with this commitment we have worked with PILA over the last number of years on the Pro Bono Referral Scheme. The objective is to connect with high impact projects like The Abhaile Project that create real social change.”
The first house conversion in now underway, commencing in September 2018. Last month, Michelle Moore was announced as a winner of the Social Entrepreneur Ireland Awards 2018 for her work with The Abhaile Project.