The rules around the Fair Deal scheme are to be changed in order to bring more properties into the rental market.
The government hopes the move could free up an estimated 8,000 homes that are currently empty.
The change agreed by cabinet will mean the proportion of rental income that nursing home residents have to pay will drop from 80% to 40%.
Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien says renters and Ukrainian refugees will benefit;
"Every empty home we can get back into use can help everyone including Ukrainians.
"We're looking at all options - this is one of them.
"We've already completed our first trawl of 529 properties that local authorities like old convents and buildings like that with plans to convert many of them"