Sunday 19 November 2017

Landlord wants 'five months rent upfront' for tenants on social welfare

Threshold says it is seeing more and more cases of 'indirect discrimination'

Parents bought a house for daughter
Parents bought a house for daughter
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Fresh concerns have been raised that landlords are discriminating against tenants receiving state help after a landlord asked for five month's rent upfront.

A tenant who is on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme was informed via email that the landlord letting a property in north Dublin required 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 deposits and three month's rent in advance "to allow enough time for the HAP application to proceed".

Sinn Fein councillor Noeleen Reilly, who received a copy of the email from a constituent, said the move amounted to "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 told Independent.ie

"Landlords know they can't discriminate against HAP tenants anymore and this just looks like a new way to get around that," she said.

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

Stephen Large, Dublin Services Manager with charity Threshold, says they are coming across cases of "indirect discrimination" more and more.

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

"All of these things are discriminatory and we advise anyone who has been affected to contact ourselves or make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under the current equality legislation.

"We are seeing less blatant discrimination but more indirect discrimination which is leading to more people staying in their accommodation or unable to get accommodation because they are seeking HAP or rent supplement," he added.

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 Minister Simon Coveney in January 2016, with a fine of up to €15,000 payable if the landlord is found to be in breach of the new laws.

In recent weeks an estate agent was 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.

According to the Department of Housing there are more than 15,000 landlords receiving HAP payments and some 19,000 households are having their housing needs met by the scheme; with 300 households being added weekly.

A spokesman advised any tenant who was concerned they were being discriminated against to contact the relevant local authority.

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News