Legislation needed to protect tenants, says housing charity

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Housing charity Threshold is warning of an increase in homelessness unless legislation going through the Dáil is amended to protect tenants.

The charity spoke out in the wake of the eviction into homelessness of a young mother, Stephanie, and her three children from the Cork city home she had been renting for nine years.

The family spent the weekend in a family hub before transferring to emergency B&B accommodation some 20km south of the city.

Threshold, which is supporting Stephanie, described her as a 'model tenant'. The charity's southern regional manager, Edel Conlon, said: “Every day we are dealing with families and individuals such as Stephanie, model tenants who pay their rent on time, invest time and personal resources making a house their home and through no fault of their own, are now homelessness.

Our sense is that things are worsening.

“We are extremely disappointed that the new Residential Tenancies Bill, that is currently progressing through the Dáil, does not contain any measures to address the issue of tenancy terminations for no reason. As long as Section 34b remains in place, we will continue to see a rise in homelessness.”

Stephanie’s landlord served her with a notice to quit last August. Threshold liaised with her landlord, resulting in an offer to increase her monthly rental payment to just over €1,100. But the landlord rejected the offer and advised the woman to leave the property by last Thursday.

The family had no option but to spend the weekend in the family hub on the Western Road before relocating to a B&B in the county for the next two weeks.

Threshold said the issue of security of tenure is the dominating issue for tenants in the private rented sector and is the number-one query being dealt with by their advisors. It accounts for 34% of the queries dealt with in the first half of 2018 and 31% of all queries in 2017. Ms Conlon said: “Rents are increasing more than incomes, housing assistance payments do not reflect market rents and we are witnessing a steady decline in supply of affordable accommodation for people in low and middle incomes."

A snap survey in the Munster region last December found that the percentage of queries on tenancy terminations in the province between January and October of 2018 increased to 40%, compared with 32% for 2017. Nationally, Threshold dealt with 4,893 tenancy termination cases last year - 1,153 of which were in the south.

Ms Conlon said Threshold has actively campaigned for the removal from the Residential Tenancies Bill of Section 34b, governing residential tenancies, because it goes against security of tenure provisions: “Section 34b enables a landlord to give notice with no reason at the end of a Part 4 or Further Part 4 tenancy."

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