Over 20 tenants in one local authority area owe more than €20,000 each in rent arrears, new figures show.
Tenants are now set to face the courts as new figures show that total rent arrears owed to South Dublin County Council (SDCC) add up to over €9.16m.
Almost 1,000 tenants in south Dublin are now facing legal action and their home may be repossessed.
Over 5,600 SDCC tenants are in rent arrears, with over 3,200 owing over €1,000. However, 168 owe between €10,000 and €20,000 and 22 owe over €20,000.
The council said it is “becoming evident” that some tenants are “refusing to engage constructively” to pay their debts.
“SDCC currently have 998 cases at various stages within the legal process where tenants have not engaged with the council to discharge their arrears. These cases, if not resolved in the immediate future, will result in legal proceedings for the repossession of the dwelling, once a court date has been obtained,” the council said.
Since May, three cases have come before the courts related to non-payment of rent.
SDCC is currently owed €9.16m from social housing tenants, according to the council’s June finance report.
The average rent charged under the council’s Differential Rent Scheme in March 2022 was €55.24 per week compared to €47.79 in March 2019.
The rents are calculated at 10pc of weekly household incomes, with an average rent of €55 per week.
Fine Gael councillor David McManus said over half of tenants are in “some level” of rent arrears.
He said that despite some of the “lowest council rents nationwide”, SDCC has the “highest level of arrears” and this is “alarming”.
Cllr McManus said unpaid rents are stopping vacant properties being refurbished.
“The knock-on effect is boarded up, vacant council houses during a housing crisis as this rent is needed to refurbish properties.
“We now have approximately 56pc of all tenants in some level of arrears. Council management have failed to resolve the arrears for some time now as between 2014 and 2018, the arrears increased from €7.8m to €8.1m.
“This is serious as it has a knock-on effect on our ability to re-invest in our 10,000 council homes and respond to maintenance requests by tenants. It’s completely unfair for those tenants paying their rent but left waiting for repairs to their home,” he said.
“Council management will always show compassion when engaging with genuine tenants in difficulty but tenants must engage or else face legal action.”
Over half of council tenants in South Dublin are in rent arrears. The social housing is provided by councils or approved housing bodies to those assessed as being unable to afford housing.