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.”

Cllr Anne Campbell: Tenants Waiting For Maintenance

Serious delays to maintenance and repair works on houses owned by Louth County Council is causing worry and stress for tenants, according to a Dundalk councillor.

Sinn Fein’s Anne Campbell says “there has been a massive slow-down in getting maintenance and repairs completed with council officials saying that all works are subject to the maintenance budget in the second half of the year.”

Cllr Campbell raised the issue at the last meeting of Louth County Council. “According to the figures,  maintenance requests have increased by 20% in two years, I also noted that work had been approved at tenants’ homes, but had not been done because of cost. I asked director of housing, Joe McGuinness, if there was a problem with money.”

In response, Mr McGuinness said: ‘There are issues with a significant number of housing maintenance requests and there are budgetary pressures. They are being prioritised and some will be done’.

Cllr. Campbell said: “I have noticed that the delays between maintenance or repair requests going in and the work getting done have been getting longer and longer since June. I have sought updates on behalf of a number of constituents and have been told that there are ‘budgetary pressures’ and each job is subject to the funding being available for it.”

“There are people who have come to me who have been waiting for months to get relatively small, but important, work done to their council houses and it’s just not happening. Indeed, there is currently no indication, in many of these cases, when the work may be carried out.”

Cllr Campbell pointed out that “Louth County Council has a responsibility to its tenants in the same way a private landlord has certain obligations to his/her tenants, including repairing and maintaining the structure of the property and maintaining the interior of the property to the standard it was at the start of the tenancy. We would not accept ‘budgetary pressures’ from a private landlord and we should not accept this reason from local authorities either.”

“This is causing a lot of stress and worry for people who are waiting to get work completed.”

IW Attempts to Collect Tenant’s Details And Force Payment Through Rents Must Be Stopped

Imelda MunsterSinn Féin Councillor and Louth County Council’s Housing SPC Chairperson, Imelda Munster, has called on Louth Local Authority not to hand over council tenant’s names and details to Irish Water.

 

It has been reported throughout the country that Councils will be required to provide details of their tenants to Irish Water and there has been speculation that those tenants who do not or refuse to pay the Water Tax could find the amount added onto their rent accounts.

 

The Drogheda Councillor has submitted two motions to the next Council meeting in order to stop both these from happening.

 

Councillor Munster stated “this latest move by Irish Water in demanding that councils hand over the names of their tenants could well be in breach of data protection regulation and local authorities have no role to play in this matter as it is domestic billing and nothing to do with local authority tenancy agreements”.

Cllr Munster explained that “other councils in other areas such as Cork , Dublin , Galway, Limerick, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire and Clare county councils have already stated that ‘tenants registration with Irish Water and water bills were a matter for IW and their customers’. I am calling on all other Councillors to support my two motions to ensure that tenant’s rights are protected under data protection laws and that local authority tenants be afforded the same rights as everyone else in making their own decision as to whether or not to pay this water tax. This amounts to nothing more than bully boy tactics by Irish Water who are doing so with the consent of the government and they must be stopped”.