Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Rent Allowance rules endanger tenants

Changes made to the rent allowance scheme as a result of the government’s decision to cut €21 million from it in the last budget is only now becoming a major issue and poses a significant danger to tenants. That’s according to Sinn Féin Cllr Anthony Kelly who is calling on the government to rethink the changes to the scheme.

Cllr Kelly said;

“In the last budget the government cut €21 million from the rent allowance allocation. Its only now that we are seeing the effects of that as thousands of families across the state receive letters notifying them of the new rent allowance thresholds and advising that they should immediately begin the process of renegotiating their rent with their landlords.”

“The government expects families reliant on state help to pay their rents to successfully renegotiate their leases downwards despite being in an extremely poor bargaining position. They offer no help, support or information.”

“There is every chance that many will fail to get their rent lowered and will be forced to look for new accommodation. It is the government’s responsibility to avoid this by renegotiating directly with landlords.”

“There are 98,000 people in receipt of Rent Allowance in Ireland. This is because we have such a poor provision of social housing. It has to be the great irony of this country that we have more houses than we can ever use, but also have families waiting for up to six years for a council house.”

“Sinn Féin has consistently argued for the utilisation of vacant NAMA held properties as social housing. Across this county we have boarded up houses and half empty estates. Where is the sense in this when people are crying out for accommodation?”

"In the long-term the government must examine the suitability of these unused properties for social housing. In the short-term they must settle the fears of people reliant on rent allowance by providing support and information as to how to go about asking their landlords for a reduction in their rent.”

“They should also be prepared to negotiate directly with landlords to secure reduced levels of rent. This is possible; all Landlords are required to register their leases with the Private Residential Tenancies Board, which already offers a dispute resolution service, which offers a mechanism for the resolution of any disputes as regards rent.”

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