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.”
Sinn 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.”
Drogheda 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.