Rent top ups ‘a very worrying situation’ – Brady
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has raised serious concerns in relation to the ongoing practice of rent top ups being paid by rent supplement recipients to landlords. Deputy Brady was speaking after the Committee on Social Protection met today with officials from the Department of Social Protection regarding Rent Supplement and the Housing Assistance Payment.
Deputy Brady said:
“The practice of rent top ups being paid to landlords by rent supplement recipients is a very worrying situation and one that is becoming far too common. Ultimately, this means that landlords are receiving an under-the-counter payment in addition to the officially declared rent.
“Successive surveys by Threshold have indicated that about half of tenants in receipt of rent supplement have to top-up to meet their rent, and three quarters of these are households with children. It has also shown that people in this situation have been left choosing between paying their rent top up, buying food or turning on the heating.
“I do welcome that the Department have acknowledged this issue and are taking steps to deal with it through regulations to put an end to illegal top ups for landlords. However, the measure being put forward to do this means tenants need to prove that they are paying rent top ups and the respective landlord must confirm this, which may prove difficult.
“It was confirmed at the Committee meeting today by officials that recipients of Rent Supplement paying top ups should contact their Community Welfare Officer to have these payments regularised and increases adopted. They will need confirmation from their landlord that they are paying a rent top up. I would encourage those out there to do this and to receive the necessary supports
“Another rent supplement flaw that I highlighted at today’s Committee meeting which must be addressed is the ongoing refusal of landlords to accept tenants who are in receipt of rent supplement. While, the Government did a half job on this in preventing landlords from openly advertising this, it is still a worrying practice and it is happening.
“Any measure to help renters is always welcome particularly, with the enormous increases in rent across the country in recent years. However, issues with payments such as this cannot be ignored. There must be further regulations put in place to both support and financially assist renters who are struggling as well as to ensure landlords are being responsible and fair to tenants.”