Threshold, the national housing agency has today, welcomed the Government’s Housing for All plan with its ambitious targets, commitment to multi annual funding, a substantial increase in social housing provision, and long-term initiatives to stabilise housing market.
With just over half of new of housing to be delivered by the private sector there is still a heavy reliance on the market to meet housing needs, but overall, the plan is moving in the right direction.
Threshold welcomes the commitment to create indefinite tenancies – a key change we have consistently lobbied for – and we are keen to see how this will be achieved. Threshold chairperson Aideen Hayden said that as it currently stands the Residential Tenancies Act enables no fault evictions, where there has been no wrongdoing on the tenants’ part, leaving the tenant no choice but to move.
“With one in five Irish families living in rented housing, it is only right that they have the security of indefinite tenancies. This will be a positive step in making the private rented sector a viable tenure of choice. Moves to ensure rental properties return to the long-term market are welcome. There are potentially thousands of properties available for short-term let that will provide much needed homes for people throughout the country.”
The organisation also welcomes the new energy efficiency measures for private rented dwellings, with the proposal to introduce a minimum BER requirement by 2025, but believe a great deal of work will be required to ensure the success of this measure. Landlords will need tailored and targeted supports to upgrade their properties. This is essential to ensure the measure does not drive landlords out of the sector and put renters at risk of losing their home.
Threshold chief executive John Mark McCafferty said that while the plan was a huge step in the right direction, he did have a concern re the lack of detail on homelessness prevention and tenancy protection:
“It is vital that the HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) rates are increased, and it is positive to see the intention to at least review these by the end of the year. Threshold has reported on the level of top-ups being paid by families and individuals across the country due to the shortfall in the limits.”
“We would like to see more detail and investment in homeless prevention as the Government commits to providing targeted prevention. The majority of people who enter homelessness do so on foot of an eviction from their private rented tenancy. Threshold prevents thousands of families, couples and singles from losing their home in the private rented sector and from entering homelessness. Increased targeted prevention in this area is vital to ending homelessness.”
While the Government retained the commitment to inspect 25% of all rental properties annually, there is a need to overhaul the current system to not only ensure properties are inspected – but that the properties are brought up to standard. Threshold has proposed a NCT for housing to achieve such positive outcomes for tenants.
It is important that small scale landlords are retained in the market. A significant proportion of the queries that come to Threshold are from tenants whose landlord has issued a ‘notice of termination for the purpose of sale.’ The review of the 2017 recommendations from the Working Group on the Tax and Fiscal Treatment of Landlords is long overdue. There can be no further delay in this, or in taking action to retain these landlords in the sector.
It is disappointing to see no further progress on the Deposit Protection Scheme. Work needs to commence now to allow the establishment of a scheme in the medium term. The scheme has been in the making for a decade. Given the history of deposit retention, this money needs be held independently for the benefit of all.
Threshold is relieved to see the commitment to retain the rent limit flexibilities in the Rent Supplement Scheme – which was a lifeline to many renters throughout the COVID19 pandemic – and will be a valuable support into future for households who experience sudden income loss.
Finally, it was encouraging to hear the Taoiseach reference words to the effect that the referendum on the Right to Housing will be held in the lifetime of this government.
Issued by Murray on behalf of Threshold
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