New figures from national housing charity, Threshold show that its Tenancy Protection Service prevented 1,014 people from becoming homeless in the west of Ireland in the last year. The figure is included in the Galway Tenancy Protection Service Annual Report 2016-17, which was launched today (27.07.17) by Minister of State for Community Affairs, Natural Resources, and Digital Development, Seán Kyne, TD.
The Galway-based service opened in June 2016 and provides advice and support to households at risk of homelessness in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. Almost half of the 534 households supported by the service were families, and a total of 406 children were prevented from becoming homeless.
The report found that the two biggest factors that threatened tenancies were tenants being issued with notices of termination requiring them to leave their rented property (35%), and rents being increased by their landlord (31%).
Commenting, Threshold Regional Services Manager, Diarmaid O’Sullivan said: “Many of the families supported by the Galway Tenancy Protection Service were low- and middle-income households, who are finding it increasingly difficult to access affordable, secure private rented accommodation. The in-depth advice and advocacy support we provided made the difference between tenants remaining in their homes and falling into homelessness, with the human misery that brings.”
Recent figures from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government show that in the region of 200 homeless adults are living in emergency accommodation in the West Region and there has been a significant growth in the numbers of people sleeping rough, particularly in Galway city.
Mr O’Sullivan added: “Historically, homelessness has primarily been a problem in urban areas but it is no longer a phenomenon confined to Galway city; severe housing shortages in towns such as Loughrea, Ballinasloe, Tuam, Gort, Castlebar, Westport and Roscommon Town have increased the risk of households becoming homeless right across the west. While the majority of those contacting us were from the Galway area (88%), 6% were living in Mayo and 2% in Roscommon.
“‘At a time when the number of properties available to rent is at an all-time low and rents are rising rapidly, the Tenancy Protection Service plays a vital role in keeping people in their homes. Liaising with the local authorities in the west, and with the Department of Social Protection, the TPS represents a cost-effective approach and delivers excellent value for money, compared with providing emergency homeless accommodation.”
Threshold chair, Dr Aideen Hayden added: “The west of Ireland is facing an escalating housing and homelessness crisis. The proportion of families renting is higher in this region than in most other regions in the country – for example, 40% of all households in Galway are renters.
“Affordability and security remain important issues to be addressed to reduce the risk of homelessness among renters, especially among people reliant on the housing assistance payment and rent supplement. We are concerned that the legislation providing security for tenants remains inadequate and we call on the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy TD to review this as a priority.”
Minister Seán Kyne said: “I would like to commend Threshold for the excellent work it is doing through the Galway Tenancy Protection Service. The issue of housing remains a challenging one for the Government and it is one that we are working hard to resolve through the Rebuilding Ireland plan, which Minister Murphy is reviewing. I also welcome the allocation last week of €4.27m to provide 23 new social houses in Galway City.”
The Threshold Galway Tenancy Protection Service Annual Report 2016/17 can be found on the Threshold website.
Notes to Editors:
Threshold was founded in 1978 and is a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to secure a right to housing, particularly for households experiencing the problems of poverty and exclusion. Its main concentration of work is within the rented sector. The organisation operates a national office, based in Dublin, and three regional offices. Further information is available at www.threshold.ie.
Key findings from the Galway TPS annual report
Of a total of 534 households presenting to the Galway Protection Service in 2016:
- 46% were families with children. Of that number, 21% were one-parent families.
- 38% were single.
- 16% were couples.
- 88% were in Galway, with city residents comprising 66% of that figure.
- 81% of tenancies were protected through contact with Threshold.
- The two primary reasons for TPS clients being at risk of homelessness were invalid notices of termination (29%) and invalid rent increases (19%). Some 35% of clients contacting the TPS service were querying notices of termination. Upon investigation, 80% of these notices were found to be invalid. Some 31% of clients got in touch with Threshold to query a rent increase notice. Some 60% of these were deemed to be invalid.
- The Tenancy Protection Service is Threshold’s service to renters across the State who are worried about losing their tenancy. It can be contacted on 1800 454 454, from 9am to 9pm, and concerned renters will receive the following prompt interventions if they are at risk of losing their home:
- Immediate guidance about rights as tenants, and landlord obligations.
- Negotiation between tenant and landlord to resolve problems and take further action if needed, including referral to the Residential Tenancies Board.
- Guidance on how to apply to the Department of Social Protection for an uplift in payment for families/couples or individuals in specific areas who are facing a rent increase and who are at risk of becoming homeless.
- The Galway Tenancy Protection Service is based at Threshold’s Advice Office, No 5 Prospect Hill, Galway and is operational Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm. Contact can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling into the office, or by calling 1800 454 454 from 9am to 9pm.
- Alongside the Tenancy Protection Service, Threshold’s housing advice services play a key role in supporting vulnerable tenants and direct interventions to prevent homelessness. Threshold’s advice services interface with many of the 320,000 households living in the private rented sector. Last year, its housing advisors took 38,844 actions in advising tenants experiencing housing problems.
- Threshold wishes to acknowledge the funding support of the Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.