Council loses out in house rents dodge

Cormac Murphy

DUBLIN City Council has lost millions of euro in rent through tenants not fully declaring their family income.

Tenants pay rent according to their means -- but the council has uncovered widespread underdeclaring of wage levels.

The situation only came to light in recent years as the householders sought to apply for mortgages from the council and were required to submit up-to-date information.

Retrospective arrears were then applied to tenants' accounts, making many of them ineligible for a home loan.

"(The years) 1995 to 2006 saw unprecedented salary/wage increases, which were often unreported for assessment purposes," the council said in a report. "In 2009, a lot of undeclared and unassessed income from previous years came to light," it added.

The Department of the Environment announced in August last year that the current tenant purchase sales scheme would end in June 2012. City chiefs then wrote to 12,500 eligible householders to inform them of the development.

Families applying to the council for a loan must have an up-to-date rent assessment and no arrears for a six-month period prior to application.

However, the council decided to accept applications with shortfalls on their accounts.

"Such cases will be date-stamped upon receipt and will not be processed until all outstanding arrears are cleared," the council said.

The council issued the report after a query from Cllr Vincent Jackson, who had asked for "leeway" to be given to people wanting to buy their homes while also owing rent arrears.