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Budget Response: Threshold Warns of ‘Unintended Consequences’ of Home-Owner Taxes

6 December 2012

Threshold, the national housing charity, has said some measures in today's Budget may impact negatively on low-income tenants in the private rental market.

Responding to the Budget, Bob Jordan, Director of Threshold, said: "Our major concern is that some of the measures announced in relation to property ownership may impact indirectly - and very negatively - on vulnerable tenants.

"There's a huge crisis in the buy-to-let property market at present, with at least one-third of buy-to-let landlords in mortgage arrears. Faced with the new property tax plus the knowledge that, from 2014, their rental income will become subject to PRSI, there's a strong likelihood that many such landlords will exit the sector or increase their rents. The market conditions will be directly responsible for this: demand for rented accommodation is increasing all the time, while the supply of appropriate housing is not sufficient. As a result, we fear poorer tenants could be pushed out."

One in every five households in Ireland now rent from a private landlord. According to Threshold, the increasingly important role played by the private rental sector in meeting Ireland's housing needs must not be undermined by Government policies.

"With the current status of the private rental sector, the measures announced today could have catastrophic consequences," said Bob Jordan. "As things stand, low-income tenants are struggling to find suitable accommodation at prices they can afford. While rent supplement was untouched today, it was drastically cut last year, and many tenants just simply could not now afford a hike in their rent.

"We are calling on the Government to carefully monitor the impact of the measures announced today - to be aware of the unintended consequences of such measures and to keep the situation under review to ensure their actions do not push vulnerable tenants out on to the streets."

Threshold welcomed the fact that no changes appear to have been made to the rent supplement scheme in today's Budget, but called on the Department of Social Protection to review the cuts made to the scheme last year.

"Despite the Minister's assurances to the contrary when she announced the cuts, we have first-hand evidence that rent supplement reductions are causing homelessness," said Bob Jordan. "Many people have been forced to leave their homes to find lower-cost rental properties and - in some cases - people have experienced homelessness as a result. With the added pressure on tenants likely to be brought about by the measures announced today, our fear is that even more households will find themselves at risk of homelessness over the coming months."

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