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Thursday 17 January 2019

Tenants forced to top up their rent payments

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

TENANTS on rent supplement are making extra top-up payments to their landlords -- in some cases of almost €140 -- to avoid losing their home.

Focus Ireland said a plan by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton to force down rents by cutting the supplement paid to tenants has failed.

Instead, renters are being forced to plug the funding gap out of their own pocket.

Lisa Ryan (39), a single mother of two from Swords, Co Dublin, told how she slept in her car for three nights after being made homeless when her relationship ended earlier this year.

She said she was forced to give up her job as an adult learning teacher when she moved into emergency accommodation with her 12 and 13-year-old daughters. The family later moved into a hostel before finding a new home in Kinsealy with the help of Focus Ireland.

Reluctant

Ms Ryan gets €762 a month in rent supplement and must pay €138 herself on top of this.

"I never thought this would happen to me. I didn't know where to go, or what to do or who to turn to," she said of suddenly becoming homeless last April.

Ms Ryan said many landlords were reluctant to rent their properties to tenants in receipt of rent supplement.

She now fears she may lose her new home if the supplement is cut again, and said she is "in limbo" as she awaits next month's Budget.

Focus Ireland interviewed 10 people in Dublin and Galway for its report into the effects of rent supplement cuts and said there is evidence that the cuts have contributed to a number of people being made homeless.

Director of advocacy Mike Allen said the people they spoke to "felt they were caught between a rock and a hard place" due to the unwillingness of landlords to reduce the rent.

"This has been the real impact of cuts to rent supplement, yet we still have people in Government calling for further cuts to be made in the coming Budget," he added.

Irish Independent

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