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Threshold calls on landlords and government to support vulnerable tenants

13 March 2020

Covid 19 crisis will put huge strain on renters

 

The housing charity Threshold has called on landlords to show flexibility and social solidarity at a time when many tenants are facing into a drop in income and increasing uncertainty arising from the impact of COVID-19.

 

Threshold said it has received many calls in recent days from tenants worried that they could lose their homes as well as their incomes due to the current crisis. The charity urged worried tenants to contact them, saying that they can mediate with landlords and also help with applications for rent supplement.

 

“At this time of social crisis, there are many people who are freelance, self-employed or working in the gig economy who will lose substantial income, while others will be unable to work due to self-isolation, which is outside of their control.”, according to the CEO of Threshold John-Mark McCafferty. “There are also people who will not be able to pay the rent because of the shortfall between the higher €305 a week illness benefit rate and their usual wages.”

 

“We have already heard of incidents of landlords showing flexibility and understanding during this unprecedented situation, and we would call on all landlords to show support for their tenants whose livelihoods and tenancies are insecure.”

 

Mr McCafferty said: “We urge the Government to introduce emergency legislation to ensure there is a moratorium on terminations of tenancies and evictions until the end of April – and kept under review.  While we would hope that most landlords will voluntarily take this step, legislation will give certainty to anxious tenants and prevent a flow of people into homelessness.

 

“The increased illness benefit is welcome but for many it will not be enough. The Government must ensure that people are able to apply for and receive emergency social welfare payments very promptly and with the minimum delay.”

 

Threshold also advised tenants who are not currently eligible for or in receipt of rent supplement or HAP that they can apply for rent supplement if their income is interrupted as a result of COVID-19, ensuring tenancies are secure as well as limiting any negative consequences to landlords who have mortgages to pay.  “We would urge the Government to ensure such applications are processed in a timely manner. Threshold is available to work with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to make this process as smooth and efficient as possible.”

 

“In light of the major fall-off in tourist numbers, this would also be an opportune moment for owners of properties used currently as short-term lets to return these homes to the long-term rental market where they are badly needed.

 

“Finally, if you are a tenant, or know a tenant, who is facing into difficulties in paying rent, or facing notices to quit, please contact Threshold on 1800 454454 – Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm. Threshold is working to ensure that our Helpline remains open for the duration of the crisis.”