Friday 13 December 2019

'As soon as I mention HAP I'm dropped like a hot potato' - woman claims landlords are continuing to discriminate

Shelagh Rice
Shelagh Rice
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A 53-year-old Siptu worker has claimed that landlords are continuing to discriminate against tenants who are entitled to a Housing Assistant Payment despite laws against such discrimination.

Shelagh Rice has worked in the finance department of Siptu for a number of years and has been renting her home in Fairview for more than a decade.

However, after 12 years renting the property her landlord informed her in 2017 that he was selling up and Shellagh has until April to move out.

In the past few months she has more than a hundred properties, focusing her search in north county Dublin.

Due to health reasons and two major surgeries she is currently on a reduced income and has been granted a HAP payment to help cover her rent.

"I've found landlords and agents are initially very interested in having me as a tenant, I'm practically shortlisted for every apartment but as soon as I mention HAP I'm dropped like a hot potato," she said.

"You can practically feel the frost in the air."

One agent explicitly told Shelagh the landlord renting one property "will not accept HAP" in an email.

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

However Shelagh feels that landlords view HAP tenants negatively due to unfounded prejudice.

"In general people don't go out looking for money for the sake of it. People only look for help when they need it," she said.

Shelagh is beginning to feel that her search for a home will end with her being evicted with nowhere to go.

"At the beginning I thought I had months to get sorted out now times feels like it's looming and I'm not any closer to getting anywhere.

The process is beginning to overwhelm her, she said.

"I'm a good tenant, with excellent references and I've worked all my life since I was 17 and now that I need help it's not the Governemnt letting me down it's the people of Ireland and landlords who just want money at a time when demand far outweighs supply and they can do what they like," she said.

Shelagh said she is not sure what the solution is to solving the problem of landlords refusing HAP tenants but suggests more could be done to educate landlords on the benefits of taking a HAP tenant.

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