Sunday 19 November 2017

Families turn down social housing due to 'lack of space, garden or parking'

In some parts of the country almost one in every two social houses was rejected over a 12-month period
In some parts of the country almost one in every two social houses was rejected over a 12-month period
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Families on the social housing waiting list are turning down homes because the properties have no garden or parking facilities and are located in areas of "high anti-social behaviour", according to the Department of Environment.

Department officials have compiled a full list of reasons behind the high level of refusals after the Irish Independent revealed many families were turning down offers because they didn't like the area.

In some parts of the country, such as Cork county, almost one in every two social houses was rejected over a 12-month period.

And in Dublin city, where the homeless crisis is most severe, close to 20pc of offers are turned down.

On the back of the alarming figures, all county and city managers were asked to provide detailed reasons as to why social homes were being rejected.

It is the first time a county-by-county breakdown of refusals has been produced and came following a request by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

A report, which is due to be sent to the Oireachtas Environment Committee, confirms homes are rejected because they are located in areas which already house people the applicants "do not feel compatible with".

Other reasons given for refusing offers of social houses include:

  • No garden or parking facilities;
  • property not located in 'area of choice';
  • a high level of anti-social behaviour;
  • property unsuitable to the applicant's needs;
  • accommodation was an upper floor apartment.

The report also states that in some cases, old age pensioners turn down one-bed apartments or properties because they are too small. Refusals are also deemed to take place when no response is received to an offer letter. The list of reasons for refusals represents a "synopsis" of the situation at hand, the department said.

And there is "anecdotal" evidence families who are on rent supplement turn down offers as they would prefer to remain in their rental accommodation.

A Government source said that while in many cases people give legitimate reasons for turning down an offer from their local authority, it has become clear that the issue of "serial refusers" must be addressed.

"Given the challenges that are there across the country in relation to housing provision, you cannot have a situation whereby people are flippantly turning down properties because they don't feel suited to the area or don't like the people who live in it," the source said.

In its report, the department says that when an applicant refuses two offers from a local authority over a 12-month period, they will not be offered another home for a further 12 months.

As revealed last month, the minister is considering tightening the rules surrounding refusals.

Mr Kelly has also asked councils to move towards a greater level of "choice-based letting" (CBL) which gives tenants a greater say over where they live.

"CBL is a method that can be used for the allocation of social housing which is designed to offer more choice and involvement for applicant households in selecting a new home, thereby reducing the likelihood of a refusal," the report states.

"The CBL approach also assists in creating sustainable tenancies and promotes the building of settled and stable communities."

The report notes Mr Kelly's "concern" over the level of refusals, adding that "it is his view that the move to a CBL system of allocating tenancies will help address the issue."

It says the approach has worked well in areas such as Dún Laoghaire, in County Dublin.

Irish Independent

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