REDUCED funding for the rent supplement scheme will result in vulnerable tenants packing up their belongings and looking for a new home as appeals to reduce rents fall on the deaf ears of “unsympathetic landlords”, according to Sinn Fein’s Sean Griffin.
Mr Griffin, a former Labour councillor, has now called on Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan “to make as much use as possible” of property in the NAMA portfolio to provide relief for hard-up private tenants.
“The reduction of €21 million in the last budget has created a major problem for people receiving rent allowance and has also led to a review of the rates across the state culminating in the drastic lowering of the rates.
“Many people are struggling to deal with the fallout of this cut, which has also seen many of them trying to renegotiate their leases downwards directly with unsympathetic landlords. This is an impossible task for most tenants and has led to some tenants being forced to seek alternative accommodation, sometimes at very short notice,” stated Mr Griffin, who has called on the government to help elderly and other vulnerable recipients of the benefit who find themselves negotiating with landlords.
“This decrease in rates will cause some tenants to default on their lease agreements, leaving them in a very precarious position because of the legal elements attached to these leases.
“There is a dire need for the government to remove the onus on the tenant to negotiate for rent reductions and instead should liaise with landlord representatives and agree rates on a regional or area basis,” Mr Griffin said.
Statistics showed there were 94,000 people around the country in receipt of rent supplement and, according to Mr Griffin, it was “safe to assume that 50,000 of these are also applicants for social housing”.
And that meant the state was “responsible for their welfare” as the European Social Charter saw having a roof over one’s head as “part of the right to an adequate standard of living”.
“In Limerick we have at least 2,000 people living in private rented accommodation. A large number of these will find themselves under severe pressure to retain their present standard of living and many will have to secure a cheaper and therefore more substandard place of accommodation.
All this is taking place while dozens of houses are boarded up around the city and over 1,000 applicants are waiting on the housing list,” he said.