Kerry pays €41m to private landlords since 2014

Private landlords in Co Kerry have been paid millions of euro in county council-let lease agreements and social housing assistance for families since 2014.

Over €13m was paid out last year for 2,885 properties.

Almost €4m related to the Housing Assistant Payment scheme, a form of social-housing support provided by local authorities to assist families living in privately-rented homes. In 2018, it applied to 898 tenancies in the county. However, since 2014, short-term leasing by Kerry County Council, from the private sector, has amounted to €41m, during a period when limited social housing was constructed, councillors claim.

Sinn Féin councillor Robert Beasley described the payments by the council to private landlords as “scandalous”, while his party colleague, Toireasa Ferris, challenged the economic sense of the payments.

The council, they noted, had not acquired houses during the recession, despite pleas from councillors.

In some cases, it was claimed, the council was leasing former council-owned houses at €900 per month.

Ms Ferris rejected the council’s statement that it was following central government policy.

“Our tardiness in purchasing properties is not central government’s fault,” she said.

Last year, the local authority paid almost €214,000 for properties to landlords who had agreed to enter long-term social-housing leasing, of 10 or more years. It paid €2.12m to landlords for 260 properties for short-term availability leasing.

The single-largest sum, of €6.73m, was for 893 properties secured by either Kerry County Council or an approved housing body, under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS). Payments under RAS have increased in Kerry each year since 2014, when the sum was €4.9m. In 2017, it was €6.35m.

Martin O’Donoghue, director of housing, said: “Ultimately, all our purchases are determined by central government policy.”

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