More than €250,000 in 'finder's fees' for HAP
More than a quarter of a million euro has been paid out by Dublin City Council to estate agents for finding housing for 159 homeless families in the private rental market.
Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) - an arm of Dublin City Council - has paid €255,977, including VAT, to estate agents in recent months, a Freedom of Information has revealed.
The practice of finder's fees first emerged in November after it was revealed the €500-a-time payments were being offered to private agents in Dublin for securing rental properties for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) tenants.
The Irish Property Owners Association called on Government to stop the initiative "immediately" amid concerns the State was interfering with the market and the "trust" between landlords and agents.
Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien labelled the latest figure "an absolute disgrace".
He said: "Obviously housing people and ensuring they're not homeless is a priority but finder's fees are wholly inappropriate. That's a quarter of a million euro given in bonuses to estate agents to house people. It's illegal to discriminate against anyone on HAP payment, so the finder's fees to me is good money being thrown away and being paid to estate agents."
Labour spokeswoman on housing Jan O'Sullivan said the finder's fees "seem totally inappropriate", but Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring said the finder's fees were "good value for money" to avoid the "much higher financial and social cost" of placing families into emergency accommodation.
DHRE refused to name estate agents who had accepted the finder's fees.