11 Aug 2022

Limerick councillors agree to lobby Minister over housing law

Limerick councillors agree to lobby Minister over housing law

Councillors fear there could be more people made homeless in the coming months

COUNCILLORS from all parties and none across Limerick have urged Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to take emergency measures to tackle the accommodation crisis.

A special meeting of the local authority took place at the request of Sinn Fein and Green members.

At it, a resolution was unanimously passed to call on government to declare a housing emergency, and use special powers to bring about a moratorium on evictions, as was the case during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members want this to be the case until Mr O’Brien raises the income thresholds for social housing supports for a three month period, with a review period after the same timeframe.

Throughout a highly-charged meeting, members shared stories of constituents who they fear could end up homeless if matters do not change soon.

“We are facing a deluge of notices to quit over the coming months. The homeless action team have been inundated with calls from families who will have nowhere to go in the coming months. Accidental landlords are exiting the market as the opportunity to sell at higher prices presents itself,” said northside councillor Sharon Benson.

Labour councillor Conor Sheehan added: “I cannot keep up with the people coming to me day-in day out with notices to quit who have absolutely nowhere to go. I can think of several housing cases I have open where by the grace of friends and family members they are going from couch to couch to couch.”

The original motion at the meeting urged an outright ban on evictions, but this was amended after some members expressed concerns it could encourage poor tenant behaviour, and force more landlords out of the market.

Anger was also expressed at council properties which had been left vacant, with City West councillor Joe Leddin pointing to a number of one-and-two bed apartments in the city empty for an extended period of time.

“In a housing crisis, that’s shocking. How is it not raising a red flag when these same apartments perhaps only need preliminary work to be done. Certainly nothing substantial. For apartments to be empty two and three years is a failure on all of us,” the Labour member said.

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