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Threshold’s Kerry outreach supported over 300 households in first year

25 August 2020

Charity marks one year since opening local outreach service

Renters in Kerry urged to lean on Threshold for advice and support in difficult times

National housing charity Threshold has revealed that it has supported 319 households in the private rented sector since the opening of its dedicated outreach service in Kerry just one year ago (16th August 2019).

The charity today urged renters in Kerry to contact its housing advisors for advice and support. Of the most common issues raised by tenants in Kerry over the last year, notices of termination dominated at almost a third (32%), followed by rent increases, Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and issues in relation to standards and repairs.

Edel Conlon, Southern Regional Services Manager, Threshold said: “The figures revealed today highlight what we knew already: that issues in the private rented sector are not confined to Ireland’s large cities, but occur in every part of the country. Nearly a quarter of clients in Kerry over the last 12 months required more than one consultation; 64% of the notices of termination seen by our advisors were ultimately deemed to be invalid; and there were five cases which involved the landlord refusing to accept HAP. The patterns that first emerged in more pressurised areas like Dublin and Cork have begun to repeat themselves across the country.

“Therefore, Threshold’s presence on the ground is vital in counties such as Kerry whose private rented sectors are growing at speed. Despite the fact that we are unable to interact face-to-face with our clients in Kerry at the moment, we remain acutely aware of the issues that families and individuals are facing and the complex nature of these problems, and we are still assisting tenants on a remote basis for now.”

Some of the challenges faced by renters in Kerry are illustrated by the case of one of Threshold’s clients, John*. John and his family live in a rented home in Kerry, which is not in a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ), meaning that a rent review can only take place every two years.

A few months after John and his family moved in, the property went into receivership; the receiver appointed an agent and John began to pay rent to the agent. Just over a year after John and his family moved in, a notice of a rent increase was served by the agent, despite the agent having been alerted to the fact that the property was not in a RPZ and that John had only been living there for just over a year. The agent persisted and subsequently sent John a warning letter, claiming that he owed over €700 in rent arrears for non-payment of the increased rent.

John attempted to represent his case with a view to resolving the issue directly with the agent, but to no avail. He then reached out to Threshold who contacted the agent on his behalf; the agent was informed that the rent review was invalid and that, in fact, the tenant was not in arrears. The agent subsequently changed his position and the tenancy is now protected.

John-Mark McCafferty, CEO, Threshold said: “This case is just one example of how vital Threshold’s interventions can be, even when renters are fully aware of their rights. The client in this case had done his level best to resolve the issue directly, but it was only when Threshold stepped in that the agent backed down. Interventions such as these have been keeping people in Kerry in their homes since the outreach clinic was opened.”

Threshold’s helpline remains available Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm at 1800 454 454, and via its website at threshold.ie/advice/help for any renter in need of advice or support.

*Client’s name has been changed to protect anonymity