At last week’s Municipal District of Drogheda’s monthly meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne firmly queried Director of Services for Housing as to whether Louth County Council had bought into the idea of offering placement fees to estate agents.
Cllr Byrne said “It emerged this week that some Local Authorities are offering estate agents €500 + Vat in ‘placement fees’ in return for them securing private rental accommodation for homeless families. I want to know firstly, are Louth County Council participating in this? And secondly, if there has been a direction from Minister Murphy to do the same?”
Cllr Byrne who is Chairperson of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee went on to voice her concerns that this would be a very bad move for the County.
“I understand that until social and affordable housing stock is increased dramatically in Louth it may seem that there is no alternative but to engage in these desperate negotiations but by God, it is plain to see this will distort the market even further. There is already an over-reliance by this Government, and in turn this Council, on the private rental sector and if that stock, in short supply as it is, is removed to facilitate backroom deals without the implementation of subsequent measures, the consequences will in turn lead to more and more families entering homelessness than the local authority will be able to manage!”
In response to Cllr Byrne’s concerns, Paddy Donnelly in his first meeting in the district in his new role as Director for Housing, confirmed that Louth County Council are not currently participating in this scheme. Whilst stating that this may be a ‘viable option for some’, this then sparked serious concerns to Cllr Byrne that this may a route the Local Authority would consider in the future.
Mr. Donnelly alleviated these counter concerns by committing to the meeting that there are no plans for Louth County Council to engage in this process in the future.
Cllr Byrne has welcomed this outcome and vowed to monitor this going forward.