Wednesday 26 April 2017

Discrimination fears as landlords demand five months' rent upfront

Under current regulations landlords are barred from excluding tenants who receive State help with their rent. Stock Image: Getty
Under current regulations landlords are barred from excluding tenants who receive State help with their rent. Stock Image: Getty
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Landlords are asking for up to five months' rent upfront, raising concerns that they are discriminating against certain types of tenants.

A tenant who is on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme was informed by email that the landlord letting a property in north Dublin required an almost €6,000 upfront payment.

The email stated that the landlord wanted a deposit worth two months' rent and an upfront payment of one month's rent to secure the apartment.

However, for a tenant in receipt of HAP they wanted a two-month deposit and three months' rent in advance "to allow enough time for the HAP application to proceed".

Sinn Féin councillor Noeleen Reilly, who received a copy of the email from a constituent, said it was "discrimination".

"How would anyone in receipt of HAP be able to pay that upfront? It would be hard enough for someone working full-time," she said.

Councillor Noeleen Reilly. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Councillor Noeleen Reilly. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Under current regulations landlords are barred from excluding tenants who receive State help with their rent.

But Stephen Large, Dublin services manager with charity Threshold, says it is coming across cases of "indirect discrimination" more and more.

"We are seeing a lot of cases where people are not refusing rent supplement tenants outright but they are putting additional barriers in place, such as additional deposits, a couple of months' rent or looking for work references," he said.

Previously properties often appeared in adverts with the caveat that rent allowance, rent supplement or HAP payments would not be accepted.

This was changed by Housing Minister Simon Coveney in January 2016, with a fine of up to €15,000 if the landlord is found to be in breach of the laws.

An estate agent was recently ordered to pay €1,500 for refusing to show a man, who was on the dole, an apartment because the landlord did not wish to accept rent allowance.

Local authorities pay landlords directly and landlords receive extra tax relief when taking in HAP tenants.

Irish Independent

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