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Dublin mum-of-four tells of panic attacks as she fears being made homeless within weeks


Dublin mum Loren Fetherston with children Heidi (1), Leo (4), Darragh (9) and Devin (12)

Dublin mum Loren Fetherston with children Heidi (1), Leo (4), Darragh (9) and Devin (12)

Dublin mum Loren Fetherston with children Heidi (1), Leo (4), Darragh (9) and Devin (12)

A Dublin mum-of-four fears she’s weeks away from homelessness due to the lack of rental properties available under the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) scheme.

Loren Fetherston was given notice-to-quit by her landlord earlier this year and must leave the two-bed Tallaght apartment she has rented for seven years by August 24.

However, the 31-year-old, whose children range in age from one to 12, said she has found it “impossible” to find a property she can afford within HAP rental limits.

Ms Fetherston, originally from Blanchardstown, told Independent.ie she is now “desperate” as her eldest son (12) is due to commence secondary school in September and she doesn’t know where they will be living.

“My four-year-old son is supposed to start junior infants in the next few weeks, but he doesn’t have a school either due to all the uncertainty,” she said.

“I have been on the Fingal housing list since 2015 and have contacted a number of ministers and TDs about my situation, but nothing seems to be happening.

“I can’t sleep with all the worry and have been having panic attacks,” she added.

Prior to renting in Tallaght, Ms Fetherston said her family had been homeless for eight months and ended up in hotel accommodation after living with relatives for a while.

“I have been given a contact number for emergency accommodation for when the time comes to leave here, but I simply can’t be homeless again – not while trying to raise four children on my own,” she said.

“My whole family support network is in Blanchardstown, and I feel very isolated here as we have nobody.

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“I am just begging anyone for help or advice – I’m at the end of my tether and have nowhere else to turn.”

She said finding an affordable home under HAP limits is more difficult now than it was seven years ago.

“The maximum rent I qualify for is around €1,700 a month, but there are very few houses suitable for a family of five in that price range,” she said.

“I have been searching all the property websites but didn’t get a single response from landlords or letting agents for any homes I expressed an interest in, even where I was willing to pay more than the HAP allows.

“I’d even settle for another two-bed apartment if I had to – I’ll take a shoebox in the middle of a field at this stage,” she added.

Meanwhile, new figures reveal a major spike in the number of notices-to-quit issued by landlords this year.

An analysis by the Residential Tenancies Board showed there were 1,781 notices-to-quit served in the second quarter of 2022 – an increase from the 841 received for the same period last year.

So far this year, almost 3,000 termination notices were issued, according to figures released to Sinn Féin’s Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin.

“These figures require urgent action,” he said. “The number of notices-to quit has soared in recent months, which will see a dramatic escalation in evictions in the near future.

“The Minister for Housing needs to convene an urgent meeting to address this clear crisis in the rental sector.”

Deputy Ó Broin said all options must be considered, including a temporary ban on evictions.

According to the Residential Tenancies Board, the majority of landlords are quitting the rental market because they want to sell their properties.