Dundalk exclusion from Rent Pressure Zone compounds student accommodation crisis – Munster

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has hit out at government for their failure to provide protections for tenants who are living in student accommodation across the state.

Deputy Munster was speaking on Sinn Féin’s private members’ bill which called for student-specific accommodation to be included under the Residential Tenancies Act to ensure that student accommodation be included in rent pressure zones and have protections under the Residential Tenancies Board.

Deputy Munster said:

“Student specific accommodation is expensive. Students and their parents across the state are under serious financial pressure due to the cost of third level education under this government.”

“Dundalk is an example of the lack of regulation over student accommodation. There are over 5000 students attending Dundalk IT. Students in the county are under pressure to find affordable accommodation, and there are no protections forthcoming for government regarding tenancy rights and rent control.”

“This government has failed to manage the private rental sector, which is now in a state of chaos. The only protection that is in place, which is clearly failing to address the problem of rent hikes, is the rent pressure zones, and the Minister has refused to include Dundalk in that initiative.”

“Rents in Louth increased again last year by 13.5%, which shows that the market is a basket-case, and this is by design of the government.”

“Our bill aimed to protect students, a vulnerable group, from greedy landlords. The government refused to support it. This is another indication of their complete disinterest in the state’s housing crisis.”

Adams calls for decent rents for students

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the government to support a Sinn Féin Bill that will provide protection for students in student accommodation by bringing them under the Residential Tenancies Act and give them access to the Residential Tenancies Board.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday evening the Louth TD highlighted the difficulties faced by students attending the Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Gerry Adams said:

“The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018 is a comprehensive piece of legislation that will give students in student accommodation the protection of the Residential Tenancies Act. It will allow students access to the Residential Tenancies Board and ensure that they are included in the rent pressure zones.

“If the Dáil really believes in access to education at all levels then all obstacles must be removed so that our young people, in particular, can reach their full potential and that includes student accommodation with decent rents and conditions.

“In my own constituency of Louth USI representatives at DkIT tell me that the lack of affordable accommodation is affecting the numbers able to take up courses. Accommodation and its cost can also badly impact on educational attainment and course completion rates.

“In its 2017 student accommodation report, Cushman & Wakefield reported that there were sixty thousand students chasing thirty-five thousand spaces. It is estimated that this number will increase to almost seventy thousand students looking accommodation in the next 5 years.

“The reality is that there is not adequate student accommodation, especially in border constituencies like Louth.

“A year ago there were 11 student accommodation projects under construction, ten of these are being built by private developers. This means that this is seen as an opportunity for profit.

“For students it is a nightmare as they try to find somewhere to stay and pay exorbitant rents. Most students at DKIT can expect their current student accommodation to cost almost 500 euro a month, with many paying significantly more than that. This is generally for a single room.

“We know that in Dublin the costs are even greater with some students being expected to pay over 900 euro a month in rents. The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018 is one way of tackling this. It does what it says on the tin. It’s about including student licences under the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act.

“This ensures that properties in the affected areas are covered by the rent pressure zones and provides access for those living in student properties to the Residential Tenancies Board. It’s a common sense proposal that has been welcomed by student’s groups. It can assist students to stay in full time education by ensuring that they are not being charged exorbitant rents”.

Cllr David Saurin: Louth County Council Putting Tenants in Arrears

Sinn Féin Councillor David Saurin has criticised Louth County Council for the delays in the processing of rent reviews and accused them of being responsible for putting some tenants into arrears.

Cllr Saurin said “I have been contacted by tenants of Louth County Council who through no fault of their own have been issued with large bills for rent arrears, in some cases running into thousands of euro. This is due to the fact that it can take up to twenty weeks from when a tenant submits a form for rent review to the case being processed. If that review then shows there should be an increase in their rent, it is being backdated 20 weeks and the tenant is handed a huge bill.”

“This delay means that Louth County Council is effectively responsible for putting their own tenants in arrears.”

Cllr David Saurin raised the issue at the last Drogheda Borough Council meeting and was reassured that this delay in processing submissions should be resolved in the first few months of the new year. However. “That is of little comfort to people who have received demands for rent arrears through the Council’s  own system failure, these notices of arrears have caused distress and anxiety to people who have done nothing wrong, in fact who have tried to do the right thing.”

Cllr Saurin said “I asked at the Drogheda Borough meeting that the Council act to reassure those who they’ve caused to go into arrears that their cases will be dealt with favourably and with a large degree of understanding when it comes to resolving the issue of their arrears. Also to reassure people that it will not impact negatively on their rights or requirements as tenants.”

Government refuse to act as Louth sees highest of rent rises – Imelda Munster TD

imelda-munster-tdSinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has lambasted government inaction following a report by Daft.ie outlining rent increases across the state which revealed that Louth has seen the biggest increase in rents for private rental accommodation.

Louth has seen rents rise by 17.3% as has Meath, with Kerry seeing the lowest at 6.9%.

Deputy Munster said:

“What compounds the rent crisis further is the Government’s refusal to include Drogheda, the largest provincial town, in the Rent Pressure Zone which would have restricted the rise in rent increases to a maximum of 4% in towns that have the highest rents and where people have a nightmare finding affordable accommodation to rent. I have written to Minister for Housing Simon Coveney to request that Drogheda be included in the Rent Pressure Zone as it has been given the Commuter Rate of Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) preciously due of high rental costs.

“There is a chronic shortage of social housing in Drogheda and throughout the county and this government’s response to the crisis is to force people into private rental accommodation through HAP, knowing full well the spiralling costs of private rental accommodation locally and the refusal of many landlords to accept people on the Housing Assistance Payment. We have over 53 acres of land banks in Louth, over 20 acres of which are in Drogheda, zoned for housing lying idle in the midst of a housing emergency and yet, this Government refuse, as did the previous Government, to fund the roll out of a social housing building programme.”

Cassidy Hits Out At Landlords & Letting Agents – Their Roof, Their Rules

Alan CassidyDrogheda Sinn Féin Councillor Alan Cassidy has hit out at unscrupulous land lords and Letting Agents taking advantage of the housing crisis.

In Drogheda there are over 1,600 individuals and families on the housing list with only a handful of Social units being built this year. As the housing crisis in Drogheda deepens, together with a shortage of rental accommodation in the area, the prices are being forced up.

Alan Cassidy said “I’ve been contacted by numerous families who are in dire circumstances and are being forced into inadequate accommodation due to rents being upped. I have also been contacted by individuals who are in sub-standard accommodation, for example damp, unhealthy properties with semi functioning heating. I was contacted by one young mother who was forced to move out of her property last winter for several months because of the cold, yet she had to maintain rent for fear of not being able to find anywhere else.”

Cassidy continued “If a tenant in private rented accommodation feels the property is not up to scratch they can contact the Council who will carry out an inspection. Any faults found during this inspection must be rectified. However tenants are in fear that following this, their rent may be ‘coincidentally’ upped and they will be deemed as ‘undesirable tenants’ by other letting agents.”

The Sinn Féin Councillor explained “I have also been contacted by one family who were informed by the letting agent that the landlord was moving back in and they were given 28 days notice to quit. By chance they spoke to the landlord who was oblivious to the situation and action taken in his name. Thankfully they are still in situ.

“Rent allowance does not reflect the cost of renting, families have to use their social welfare and children’s allowance to keep a roof over their heads. Housing needs to be a constitutional right in this state. However there is a very small group in this town who have a monopoly on properties and are taking from the most vulnerable in our community. This needs to be addressed. We need adequate social housing and that requires a real investment in this area.