Tuesday, 13th December 2016
The national housing charity, Threshold, has today (13.12.16) broadly welcomed the announcement of the Government’s Strategy for the Rental Sector, published earlier today.
Under the Strategy, the Government plans to introduce rent certainty to alleviate pressure on tenants in areas where rents are rising most quickly. This measure will be introduced with immediate effect in the four Dublin City Authority areas and Cork City. Threshold is calling for the national roll-out of this scheme without delay.
Speaking today Aideen Hayden, Chairperson, Threshold, said: “We welcome today’s announcement of the Government’s Strategy for the Rental Sector and the limited measures to ensure more rent certainty but the crisis in the private rental sector is a national issue that requires a national and sustainable response.
“The scheme needs to be extended to Galway and to the commuter areas around Dublin and Cork without delay. Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service began operating in Dublin initially and due to the demand for support was extended to Cork, Galway and commuter areas – this reflects the urgent need for support for tenants in these areas and the growing crisis in the sector.
‘‘Threshold has been calling for a strategy for the rental sector for some time now and today’s announcement will go some way to address the issue of unaffordable rents, however, skyrocketing rent increases have put hundreds of families across the country at risk of homelessness. The 54 per cent increase in calls that Threshold has received in the last year illustrates the extreme pressure being felt by those living in the private rented sector. The most vulnerable, low income tenants, must be a priority for the Government.
“It is shocking that almost half of the people who contacted the Cork Tenancy Protection Service over the past year were working in paid employment, and many have had to cut back on essential spending such as heating and food in order to keep pace with rising rents. The measures to introduce rent certainty in high pressure areas are welcome however the recently published Savills report predicts increases of around 25 per cent in the next 30 months and tenants have already been coming to us with substantial rent increases of 20, 30, and 40 per cent over the past number of years. This has meant that the most vulnerable, low income tenants are being pushed out of the market and in many cases, are being put at risk of homelessness.”
Aideen Hayden continued: ‘‘Along with the measures to introduce rent certainty, it is essential that tenants are given security of tenure and we welcome the commitment to move from four- to six-year tenancy cycles, as a first step towards tenancies of indefinite duration. However, we urge the Government to ensure that further steps are taken without delay to allow tenants to plan for the long term and give families the security in knowing that they can remain in a community without their children having to change schools unnecessarily if they are forced to move.
‘‘To achieve this robust anti-avoidance measures are needed to ensure that landlords cannot unfairly vacate tenants from their homes as is currently happening. The sale of property or refurbishment should never be justification for the termination of a tenancy. In addition we also need to close off existing loopholes that undermine security of tenure, such as landlords being able to give notice at the end of a Part 4 Tenancy with no reason. Furthermore, immediate legal safeguards must also be put in place for tenants in buy-to-let properties which fall into the hands of receivers to ensure that tenants are protected when property changes hands.
“Substandard accommodation is the second biggest issue that Threshold dealt with in 2015, with 1,429 queries in total. It also accounts for 15 per cent of overall queries this year. We welcome the commitment in the Strategy that 25 per cent of rented properties are inspected but this is not about the level of inspection – enforcement of adequate standard accommodation is needed.
“In 2014, 8,336 out of 15,000 properties inspected by the National Oversight and Audit Commission were found to be below standard. There is a need for a targeted inspection and enforcement system to ensure that it is the duty of the landlord to provide safe accommodation that meets adequate standard requirements. Threshold is calling for the introduction of an ‘NCT’ for rented housing, similar to the system that currently exists for motor vehicles.
‘‘Threshold is also calling for the setting up of a Deposit Protection Scheme, as set out in the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015, without further delay.’’
Given the unprecedented increase in demand in recent times, Threshold will again provide an emergency on call service over the Christmas period for tenants at risk of homelessness. The service can be accessed between 10am and 4pm, even on Christmas day, by phoning 0858613850. For more information, visit https://www.threshold.ie/
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.