Budget 2017 is a missed opportunity for low-income tenants

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Threshold, the national housing charity, has said this year’s budget has failed to introduce rent certainty measures to help tenants and first-time buyers. The charity believes that the best way to help first-time buyers is to cap exorbitant rents.

Commenting today (11.10.16), Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold said: “Today’s budget recognised the need to assist first-time buyers, many of whom are trapped renting privately while for many more, owning their home is only a dream. While we acknowledge this support, Threshold believes that the best way to help first time buyers is to cap the exorbitant rents they are facing month after month.

“We need caps on rent increases as a matter of urgency or other measures to help first-time buyers and those who received any additional support in today’s budget such as childcare subsidies will see these benefits swallowed up. One third of all families with pre-school children are in rented accommodation and over 50 per cent of tenants at risk of losing their homes who contact Threshold are in full-time paid employment. Increases in childcare support or the 50 cent increase in the minimum wage will mean little to these families if they are facing rent increases of €200 or €300 per month.

“We must have a national strategy for the private rented sector that is adequately resourced and has clear targets to address issues like long-term rent certainty, increasing affordable supply, improving the quality of rented housing and dealing with the difficulties in the buy-to-let sector.

“We welcome the €105 million investment in the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme as this will have a real impact in supporting thousands of people. We also welcome the commitment to provide 47,000 new social housing homes by 2021.

“We have seen many supports for landlords introduced in Budget 2017 but any tax relief for landlords should be matched with rent certainty for tenants. We must see better security for tenants and real measures to ensure rented properties are fit for purpose. Last year, standards were the second largest issue coming to our housing advice service.

“We welcome the increased funding for homeless emergency accommodation, however the Government’s priority should be preventing families from becoming homeless in the first place. It is deeply frustrating for frontline services like Threshold to see families falling into homelessness when this can be prevented. Our Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) in Dublin, Cork and Galway last year prevented 8,550 people (including 4,483 children) from becoming homeless.”

Threshold wishes to acknowledge funding received from the Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

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