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PROBLEMS OF RENTERS NOW COMPARABLE TO LATE-1990s

3 December 2013

PRESS RELEASE

Tuesday, 3rd December 2013

PROBLEMS OF RENTERS NOW COMPARABLE TO LATE-1990s

- Threshold concurs with Dublin Region Homeless Executive -

Threshold – the national housing charity – has said that the results of the homeless count, released today by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, is a manifestation of the pressures in the private rented sector.  Threshold said it concurred with the message from the Homeless Executive that families should contact appropriate services before their accommodation problems get too bad. Threshold operates an advice and advocacy service for people at risk in the private rented sector.

According to Threshold’s Chairperson, Senator Aideen Hayden: “The pressure facing tenants in the private rented sector are comparable to the late-1990s when there was an effective bubble in this sector and people were moving into homelessness at a high rate. 

“In November alone, Threshold made over 500 interventions on behalf of people who had complex-housing problems in areas of rent arrears, threats of eviction, invalid notice and difficulty finding accommodation.  Unlike those with mortgages or those in social housing, renters are always just weeks away from homelessness if they fall on hard times,” she said.

Threshold’s interventions are increasingly in areas such as negotiating repayment plans with landlords arising from rent arrears, and assisting tenants in seeking welfare payments to enable them stay in rented accommodation.

“It’s crucial that people make contact with us as soon as they start encountering problems in keeping up with their rent payments.  Interventions become more difficult as problems spiral, and that’s when people and families become at risk of homelessness,” said Senator Hayden.

“However, beyond the work that we are doing, a policy response is also required.  We’re now living in a landlord’s market where they can pick and choose tenants, and drive up rents.  In particular, welfare recipients are being pushed out of the market because landlords want cash payers.  Where welfare tenants get accommodation, they are increasingly forking out top-up payments from their weekly allowances.

“What’s needed now is some form of public housing programme, be that a return to the traditional form of local authority housing, or an initiative with landlords to effectively reserve some of the market for low-income tenants.  Beyond this, as in the case of countries such as Germany, tax breaks could be offered to developers who build housing that is ring-fenced for those on low incomes,” she added.