independent

Tuesday 25 June 2019

One third of notices to tenants were from landlords selling up

Bill Browne

The housing charity Threshold has revealed that the number of calls it received from concerned tenants relating to notices of termination across Cork more than doubled over the course of last year.

Figures contained within Threshold's annual report for 2017 showed that a survey undertaken by their Cork office showed that almost one third of notices of termination were issued by landlords selling their properties.

Threshold's southern regional services manager Edel Conlon said that while they welcomed the move to extend Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ) beyond Cork city to include places such as Ballincollig "we continue to witness misuse of this legislation". 

"A survey conducted by the Cork office in 2017 revealed that more than 30 per cent of notices issued were due to landlords selling their properties. However, in some instances, tenants reported that the properties were never sold and were put back on the rental market as a rent substantially higher than the four per cent RPZ cap," said Ms Conlon. 

"This situation was emphasised by the number of calls to the Cork office in relation to rent increases almost tripling from Q1 2016 to Q1 2017," she added. 

Ms Conlon went on to say the standard of accommodation tenants were forced to live in "continued to be a major concern" in Cork throughout 2017.

She said Threshold continued to field calls from tenants who were afraid to report their sub-standard accommodation due to "the risk of being issued with a notice of termination and being made homeless". 

The Threshold report said they had dealt with a high number of queries in relation to Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). Of particular concerns were delays in processing HAP, which the charity said resulted in some tenants falling into debt and having to approach charitable organisations for support with food. 

On a more positive note, Ms Conlon said that Threshold's Cork Access Housing Unit (AHU) has supported some 42 households to move out of homelessnes and n to homes during 2017. 

The charity also worked closely with Cork City council, advocating on behalf of households in an effort to secure them other social housing options. 

"In addition the AHU provided tenancy sustainment to service to 48 households, supporting them from homeless accommodation into independent living as well as helping those in long-term housing who require help with sustaining their tenancies," said Ms Conlon. 

Nationally, the report showed tenancy terminations, rent reviews/increases,  standards and repairs and deposit retention were the main issues of concern aired to them during 2017. 

The charity estimated that it saved the State in the region of €3 million during 2017 through its provision of supports and services for those at imminent risk of homelessness. 

"Through providing advocacy, advice Residential Tenancy Board representation and our Tenancy Protection Service, Threshold helped an average of 364 households a month to stay in their homes last year," said Threshold chair Aidan Hayden. 

"It must be remembered that there are not just statistics, there are real people...adequate services and procedures must be put in place to protect them. It is fair to say that without our vital intervention, the homeless figures would be much higher."

Corkman

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