New legislation must be introduced as a matter of priority to protect the rights of tenants who are affected by the shortage of housing across the country, according to the national housing charity, Threshold. Chief executive John-Mark McCafferty made the call at today’s (16.06.17) TASC / FEPS Annual Conference at the Croke Park Conference Centre, where he was speaking on the impact of the housing shortage.
Pointing to issues such as overcrowding and confusion over receiverships, he said: “Overcrowding in rented accommodation and the phenomena of the ‘hidden homeless’ has recently come into sharp focus, as we see growing instances of people ‘sofa surfing’ and situations of multiple generations of families living under the same roof because younger generations can’t source affordable accommodation. There is no suitable definition of overcrowding and this needs to be inserted into existing minimum standards as set out in the Housing Regulations.”
Mr McCafferty added that legal uncertainty over the obligations of receivers is also adding to the distress of tenants. He said: “The issue of tenants’ rights during receivership continues to be one of the most worrying complaints to our advice line. Where a landlord disputes the appointment of a receiver to a property there can be great confusion for tenants over who is to receive their rent payment. We recently had a call to our Tenancy Protection Service from an older tenant after their apartment was put into receivership. In this instance, rent should be paid to the receiver. However, a relative of the landlord disputed the appointment and told tenants not to engage with the receiver and to continue to pay their rent to the landlord, which created confusion and uncertainty for our client.
“We continue to call for the residential tenancies legislation to be amended so that it clearly states that when a receiver is appointed to a property it assumes the rights and obligations of the landlord. This would provide clarity for all parties.”
He added: “The human impact of the current housing shortage is wide-ranging. The precarious situation many families find themselves in has an impact on their quality of life, their relationships, and their mental health. There is not enough rental property in Ireland at an affordable price – especially in urban areas – and low and middle income households are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable accommodation. While last year’s ‘Strategy for the Rental Sector’ was a welcome development, we call on the new Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy TD, to not only progress this plan, but also to ensure that measures such as the Rent Pressure Zones are monitored and enforced.”
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.