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82% rise in FLAC housing queries shows up government failure – Ellis

6 July, 2015 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has said that the rise in calls to the Free Legal Advice Centre regarding concerns about rights in housing underlines the failure of the government to tackle the housing crisis or even the distress caused by their inaction. He made his comments following the release of figures by FLAC which show an increase of 82% in the number of calls to their service regarding housing issues.

Deputy Ellis said:

“For four years, the government has failed to tackle the shortage in affordable private rental properties and social housing. They have pursued policies which have actually increase hardship for renters and even pushed people into homelessness. We have over 1000 children in emergency accommodation today because of the government’s cuts to rent supplement and other vital social welfare payments coupled with a failure to tackle exorbitant rent rates.

“The government has also failed to bring in necessary reforms to provide tenants with the support they need when at risk of losing their home. The Threshold-run support for tenants at risk has helped, but the approach by the government has been too disjointed and many tenants simply do not know their rights or how to find out about their options. There is not even any legal requirement for landlords to notify local authorities of impending evictions and the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) has had to cut spending as they receive no government funding at all.

“We need a strengthened PRTB with annual funding that manages a deposit retention scheme and rent tribunals to bring rent levels under control. This needs to happen in conjunction with the building, refurbishing and purchase of thousands of social housing units is the only way to end the crisis.

“The government, and in particular the Labour Party, have failed to deliver on a promise to bring in Rent Certainty before the summer, and with less than a fortnight until the Dáil rises for the summer, no such legislation has been published.” 

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