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Sinn Féin senators to table motion on Rent Allowance cuts

4 July, 2012


The Sinn Féin Seanad team will this evening table a motion on the cuts to the Rent Allowance which are seeing many tenants in the private rental sector struggling to cope and in some cases forced out of their houses.

The most recent budget saw a cut of €21 million to the Rent Allowance budget. This led to a review of the rates across the state and a new lower set of rates being brought in.

Speaking in advance of the motion Galway Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said:

“People are seriously struggling to deal with the fall-out of the cut to the Rent Allowance which has seen tenants forced to try and renegotiate their leases downwards directly with their landlords. This is an impossible task and has led to people being forced out of their homes to find alternative accommodation at very short notice.

“This decrease in rates will cause some tenants to default on the lease agreement leaving them in a very precarious legal situation.

“This is a totally unacceptable situation and will impact on vulnerable tenants, many of whom are elderly, in receipt of disability allowance or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“What is needed is for the government to sit down with landlord representatives to negotiate a rent level for certain areas rather than leaving it to tenants to try and sort themselves.

“We in the Sinn Féin Seanad team are using private members time to table this important motion and I am calling on all senators from all parties and none to support it.”

Full text of Sinn Féin Seanad PMB

That Seanad Éireann notes that;

-       the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the European Social Charter recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living.

-       there are 94,000 people in receipt of Rent Supplement in this state.

-       there are 100,000 people on waiting lists for Local Authority Housing in this state, and the Public Housing Sector has been chronically underfunded for many years.

-       That many of those in receipt of Rent Supplement fall within a particularly vulnerable category of tenants, often already living in properties which are at the lower end of the price scale for rented accommodation.

-       the Minister for Social Welfare’s stated commitment that no tenant would be made homeless on account of these changes.

-       according to Focus Ireland there are some 5,000 people homeless in the state at any given time.

-       Many single parents face an anomaly as regards being assessed as single persons for the purposes of rent allowance, despite having joint custody of a child.

-       the problems experienced by a proportion of Landlords, cannot be separated from the wider mortgage arrears crisis.

-       many of those in receipt of Rent supplement will find it difficult to renegotiate their rent downwards, and to find alternative accommodation in the vicinity

Criticizes

-       the practice of Landlords seeking cash payments from tenants, in addition to accepting Rent Supplement, in breach of the legislation.

And,

therefore calls on the Minister for Social Protection

-       to provide support information and assistance to tenants currently availing of rent supplement

-       To negotiate directly with landlords the rates at which rent supplement is paid, in order to reduce the expenditure on Rent Supplement.

-       To put in place a scheme whereby rent supplement is paid directly to Landlords, rather than to tenants

-       To make as much use of suitable NAMA accommodation in order to meet the needs of those currently in receipt of Rent Supplement, and to acquire vacant NAMA properties for social housing purposes.

-       To direct HEOs (formerly known as CWOs) to take all reasonable steps necessary to ensure that tenants have appropriate accommodation.

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