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Threshold Outlines Key Measures to Resolve Housing Crisis

17 July 2014

– Housing charity presents pre-Budget submission to Oireachtas Committee –

Threshold, the national housing charity, has today (16.07.14) called on the Government to introduce a number of measures in Budget 2015 to resolve the current housing crisis.  Presenting its pre-Budget submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, the organisation said the forthcoming Budget must contain measures to increase the supply of housing, tackle the affordability crisis being caused by rising rents, and prevent homelessness. 

Addressing the Committee, Bob Jordan, Chief Executive of Threshold, said: “Budget 2015 is an opportunity for the Government to introduce truly effective and targeted measures to prevent more families becoming homeless; to increase the supply of housing for vulnerable families; and to tackle the various problems caused by rapidly rising rents.

“We are calling on the Government to increase Rent Supplement limits in a targeted way to help those living in high-demand areas.  We also believe rent control measures must be introduced to curb unsustainable rent increases and give greater stability and certainty to tenants and landlords.

“The Government must take steps to ensure that, if buy-to-let properties go into mortgage arrears, the tenants living in them are not adversely affected.  We would like to see the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 amended to state that receivers must ‘step into the shoes’ of landlords and take on their obligations, once they are appointed to buy-to-let properties.

“Furthermore, everything possible must be done to prevent families becoming homeless and to rehouse those who are currently experiencing homelessness.”

In addition to the measures highlighted by Mr. Jordan at the Committee hearing, other recommendations in Threshold’s pre-Budget submission include:

  • Increasing social housing output to a minimum of 6,000 units per annum (only 750 social housing units were built or acquired in 2013). 
  • Introducing a targeted stimulus for private housing construction and, in doing so, retaining the Part V requirement for developers to provide social housing, but with a much stronger emphasis on securing completed units rather than alternative contributions.
  • Prioritising the provision of 2,700 additional housing units, over the period 2014-2016, for people who are homeless, as promised in the Government’s recent implementation plan on addressing homelessness.
  • Introducing a certification scheme for private rented properties that requires landlords to have their property certified as legally compliant with minimum standards regulations by a qualified professional.
  • Ensuring the new deposit protection scheme becomes operational as quickly and efficiently as possible after legislation has been enacted. 
  • Reviewing and extending the security of tenure provisions in the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 in order to facilitate tenants to remain in their rented homes and to provide greater protection for families with children.
  • Introducing a code of conduct on buy-to-let mortgage arrears, similar to the code that has been introduced for residential mortgages.
  • Amending the tax code to incentivise landlords to engage more fully with the State in providing accommodation for low-income households. 

The full text of Threshold’s pre-Budget submission is available at: http://ow.ly/zgfJO. 

Briefing on Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service

Prior to presenting to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform today, the organisation hosted a briefing in Leinster House for Oireachtas members and Councillors on Threshold’s new Tenancy Protection Service. 

“This service was established recently to support families at risk of homelessness to resolve their housing issues and to find sustainable homes,” said Senator Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold.

“The housing crisis has emerged as one of the most serious issues facing Ireland, and immediate measures must be taken to ensure it does not continue to spiral out of control.  We are calling on the Government to ensure that such measures are included – as priorities – in Budget 2015.”

Further information about Threshold is available at: www.threshold.ie