Changes to a social housing leasing scheme, which aims to bring hundreds of social houses on stream to help alleviate the property crisis, have come into effect.

The changes were made in an effort to increase the number of people signing up to Repair and Lease Scheme.

The scheme was launched last year when then minister for housing, Simon Coveney, said he was confident it would deliver up to 800 homes in 12 months.

Latest figures show that just nine homes have been occupied by the end of 2017.

Under the plan, owners of run-down vacant homes are encouraged to lease their properties to their local council for social housing.

Under the original terms, the council would initially pay for the refurbishment of the property up to the value of €40,000.

In return, the homeowner leased it to council for a minimum of ten years, and the rent was set at 80% of the current market rates.

However, under the new terms that minimum lease term has been reduced from ten to five years, and the proportion of the market rent has increased to 92% of the current market rate.

The Department of Housing has said it hopes that changes will make the initiative more attractive and help achieve the target of 800 units for this year.