Over 50% of private tenants who contacted Threshold at risk of homelessness – Annual Report launch

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  • Threshold advisors assisted with 10,729 households at risk of homelessness in 2021
  • Roughly 2,000 households contacted Threshold twice during this 12-month period on separate issues

More than half of private tenants who contacted Threshold last year were at risk of entering homelessness according to national housing charity Threshold’s 2021 Annual Report. It shows that advisors assisted a total of 19,947 households in 2021, of which 10,729 were deemed to be at risk of entering homelessness.

Over 60,000 contacts were made to Threshold in 2021. Tenancy terminations remains the largest issue facing private tenants for the fifth consecutive year, with 29% of queries concerning termination of tenancy. Threshold advisors encountered a larger level of queries concerning standards and repairs compared to previous years, with 10% of private tenants seeking advice on their accommodation. This may be a result of delays in carrying out repairs during the public health restrictions, throughout parts of 2020 and 2021.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Chairperson of Threshold, Liam Reid said: “The housing crisis in Ireland remains one of our greatest challenges and the 2021 Annual Report reflects the dedicated work that Threshold is doing to support private renters remain in their homes during this challenging time. Threshold believes that every person in Ireland is entitled to equal access to secure and affordable housing.

“Our advisors support tenants with expert advice on a range of key issues from leases to living standards, and as an organisation we advocate for greater tenancy rights to ensure improved affordability and security of tenure. Threshold’s work is critical, as we await the development of a better affordable and accessible housing supply to alleviate the pressures of this ongoing housing crisis.”

Threshold CEO, John-Mark McCafferty spoke on the work of Threshold in 2021, stating: “During 2021, Threshold assisted nearly 20,000 households, almost 12,000 of which contacted Threshold for the first time. Our advisors supported this stark number of households with over 22,000 issues, meaning that some households faced two separate challenges in their private rental accommodation in the space of 12 months and required Threshold’s advice or help to deal with these. Our work is critical in supporting householders to remain in their homes, during what is a deepening housing crisis for many of those who rent and feel vulnerable.”

Policy impact

Threshold plays a key role in campaigning for access to affordable, secure, and good quality housing for all in Ireland. In 2021, legislation was introduced to limit the amount for a deposit requested by a landlord to the equivalent of one month’s rent. This was of particular significance to students renting their home and was a result of a long-standing campaign that Threshold committed to and engaged with the Union of Students Ireland (USI) on.

Threshold launched their first Impact Report in September 2021, a quarterly report that provides the public with an overview of Threshold’s work per quarter and details of the impact that Threshold advisors have in assisting private renters overcome challenges in the private rental sector.

In December 2021, the Government introduced legislation to create “indefinite tenancies” through removing section 34(b) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. The removal of this section resulted in greater security for private renters across Ireland, as landlords could no longer choose to evict their tenants without cause every six years. This was an area of policy change that Threshold strongly campaigned for since 2014 and brought private renters across Ireland a step closer to achieving security of tenure.

Advocacy

In 2021, Threshold advisors represented 255 households at the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and assisted 291 households to submit disputes. Threshold advisors assisted three clients to submit cases to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and represented two clients at the WRC, concerning discrimination regarding the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) or rent supplement, to support rental costs.

In 2021, Threshold identified 121 private renters who had been discriminated against as they were seeking HAP. In many cases, the Threshold advisor was able to assist the client to resolve the situation with the landlord. In some cases, however, the client was forced to find another home.

Crisis hitting all members of society – Case Studies

Bridget, a private tenant in her 60s, who lives alone and is reliant on HAP, fell into rent arrears in 2021 and could not afford to pay the “top-up” on her HAP payment. As a result, her landlord issued a notice of tenancy termination. Bridget was terrified as she had no other place to live. She contacted Threshold and with the help of an advisor she entered a repayment plan with her landlord and identified supports to assist her rental payment. With this vital support from Threshold, Bridget’s landlord withdrew the notice of termination.

John-Mark McCafferty concluded: “We appreciate the efforts taken by the Government to alleviate pressures facing private tenants this year, including financial supports announced in Budget 2023 and a ban on evictions for a five-month period; however we are reliant on the increase of affordable and secure housing which must be accelerated if we wish to see this crisis ease. This is the absolute priority and the only way the situation can and will improve.” 

Threshold’s helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am- 9pm at 1800 454 454, with webchat at www.threshold.ie/get-help for any private renter in need of advice or support.

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