Thursday 23 November 2017

One in four social houses turned down despite crisis

Some applicants have refused offers of social housing because of the interior decoration

CLAMPDOWN: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Mark Condren
CLAMPDOWN: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Mark Condren
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

More than one in four people offered social housing turned down an offer of permanent accommodation from Dublin City Council but kept their position on the housing list, according to new figures obtained by the Sunday Independent.

The country's largest local authority offered 1,009 houses to people on the list last year but almost 300 applicants either turned down or did not respond to the offer of social housing.

Almost 200 people turned down the offer because they believed the accommodation was "not suitable" for their needs. Reasons included the property being too big or too small.

Applicants have also turned down offers of apartments because they are on the ground floor of a complex - or because they are too high.

A senior Government source said social housing has been turned down in some instances due to the interior decoration.

"Houses have been turned down because people didn't like the colour of the carpet," the source said.

In instances where an offer was turned down, the applicant remained in the same position on the housing list until another property became available.

In June and July this year, the council offered 414 houses, 27pc of which were turned down, according to internal council figures.

The refusal rate in Cork City Council was far lower than in the capital. Up to August, 300 houses were offered to applicants on the housing list, 51 of which were turned down.

One applicant rejected the offer of an apartment because they wanted a house, 12 turned down properties they believed were too small, and 38 claimed the property offered to them was not suitable.

There has been a major increase in the number of social houses accepted in Cork.

A previous study of housing list refusals found almost one in two offers in Cork were turned down.

The new housing list figures come as Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy prepares a major clampdown on people refusing offers of accommodation from local authorities.

Mr Murphy is also developing a scheme which would see applicants based in cities move up the housing list more quickly if they accepted accommodation in a more rural area.

At a recent housing summit, local authority chief executives raised concerns about the number of homes being refused by those on the waiting list.

Sources at the meeting said chief executives complained that the bureaucracy involved in housing someone means it can take a month to offer the same house or apartment to another applicant once it has been refused.

Applicants can turn down an offer of housing without affecting their place on the housing list.

If the local authority thinks the applicant is refusing accommodation without good reason, they can move the individual down the housing list.

If an applicant refuses more than one reasonable offer in any 12-month period, they can be suspended from the list for a year, during which they cannot claim rent supplement.

The Government has committed to increasing the number of social housing units constructed in the coming years as part of its attempt to alleviate the housing and homelessness crisis.

Mr Murphy has committed to building 3,800 social houses next year.

Sunday Independent

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