Wednesday, December 04, 2019

By Kevin O’Neill

Housing charity Threshold claims there would be double the number of homeless people in Ireland but for its interventions.

This week, the Department of Housing revealed that 10,514 people are living in emergency accommodation, the highest figure ever recorded.

In publishing its annual report for 2018, Threshold revealed that a further 11,500 people were kept in their homes by the charity’s interventions.

The charity has urged the government to provide more active interventions and prevention. Failing to do so will lead to “yet more human misery” as evicted families look to emergency services for shelter and support.

Threshold’s annual report showed it answered an average of 321 calls per day from tenants needing support.

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Other findings include:

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[item]Three-quarters of notices of tenancy terminations (NOT) issued to tenants did not arise from tenant wrongdoing.[/item]

[item]Some 57% of NOTs were found to be invalid.[/item]

[item]The biggest reason given for NOTs was that properties were being sold.[/item]

[item]Threshold represented 254 clients at the Residential Tenancies Board in 2018, three times as many as in 2017.[/item]

[item]Threshold saw an increase in tenants seeking support in relation to mass evictions and also an increase in the number of cases of discrimination against tenants in receipt of Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). Under law, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against people on the basis they are in receipt of HAP or other social welfare payments.[/item]

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Aideen Hayden, Threshold chairperson, said that “proper planning for the future” can resolve the crisis.

“Prevention services really work; supports in the community can keep vulnerable people in their homes, and a long-term social housing building programme is required. Lack of long-term planning got us here,” she said.

Writing in the report, Ms Hayden said that soaring rents have left many families trapped in the private rental sector.

“Many families excluded from home-ownership are paying more in rent than they would in mortgage repayments,” she said.

For example, the rent on a 3-bed house to rent in Limerick city was €1,132 a month in Q4 2018 whereas a mortgage on the same property was €838 a month.

“We are facing a housing system where Irish people will be renting indefinitely. Many people ask, what’s wrong with renting for the rest of your life. People in Germany and Austria do it all the time.

“The rental market in Ireland, though improving, is still insecure, unaffordable and of poor quality. Tenancies can still be ended for no reason. Moreover, rents grew 6.9% nationally in 2018.”

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