Cllr Pearse McGeough: ‘Tenants have Rights Too’

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough informed Louth Chief Executive Joan Martin that “council tenants have rights too” at this month’s Council meeting.

The issue was raised by Cllr McGeough and several other councillors during the manager’s report. Cllr McGeough said “there are council tenants that are waiting for maintenance works to be carried out and many have been waiting for quite some time. Financial constraint is the reason being given as to why these repairs are not being carried out. Repairs are still being prioritised but what M/s Martin fails to recognise is that Council tenants have rights too.”

Cllr McGeough compared the Council to a private landlord and said “if a private landlord said they couldn’t afford to repair a tenant’s home because they didn’t have enough money, can you imagine the furore there would be? Their tenants would be entitled to report them to the Residential Tenancy Board.”

“All landlords have responsibilities including ensuring the property is in good condition and to carry out repairs within a reasonable time. There is an onus on landlords to ‘reimburse the tenants for any repairs they carried out on the structure that they requested with the landlord which the landlord did not carry out within a reasonable time’. Louth County Council is a landlord and they are not adhering to these rules.”

Councillors also raised the issue of ‘voids’ or vacant properties in the county. M/s Martin told the chamber that the only way she could afford to turn these properties around was if the Cllrs present increased the Local Property Tax by a full 15%.

Cllr McGeough said “there is a fund at central government to help with vacant properties and we need to avail of that to the maximum. It is a disgrace that we have over 70 ‘voids’, not to mention the vacant properties boarded up around the county while there are families with children living in B&Bs and hotels and people living on the streets.”

Ó Murchú: Additional Funding Need for Housing Maintenance

Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has said that Louth County Council must make additional maintenance funding available for the Council’s housing stock as soon as possible.

Cllr Ó Murchú said:

“On Tuesday night at the Dundalk Municipal Council Meeting, councillors were informed that the current budget for housing maintenance had been completely exhausted. I asked if there was any possibility of the necessary funds being found and was told they were in the process of appealing to the Chief Executive for additional monies.”

A Budget meeting then took place on Wednesday.

Cllr Ó Murchú was at that meeting and said “the Chief Executive said she would make €400,000 to €500,000 available for housing maintenance which is to be welcomed but it is questionable as to whether this will be sufficient.”

“Housing repair works which are not completed in a timely way will have a longer term impact on the Council’s budget as these problems worsen over time. I am aware of cases in which Council houses are being left empty for long periods of time due to the lack of funding to bring them up to a habitable standard.

“The current housing shortage, which is the direct consequence of government policy, has also led to rising instances of sub-standard accommodation being used. We cannot permit housing stock in Louth to fall into disrepair.

“All of this needs to be taken into account in relation to the 2019 maintenance budget as part of the overall Council budget.

“There is a major problem with insufficient funding from central government for local authorities.

“Overall central government funding is less now than it was in 2014 and 2015 and there has been no taking into account of inflation or payroll restoration costs.

“This has been an on-going issue for the Council and they continue to represent to central government. In the meantime, tenants are left in the position that in spite of paying their rent, their landlord, the Council, is not carrying out repairs in a reasonable timeframe, if at all.”