Councillor wants full report on spurious house refusals

A full report into trumped-up reasons why people refused Cork County Council homes is being demanded by the leader of the largest party on the council.

Fine Gael’s Councillor Kevin Murphy said he would be requesting the report from the council’s chief Tim Lucey executive following yesterday’s story in the Irish Examiner which highlighted some of the allegedly spurious reasons why social housing was declined.

One women refused a house with a harbour view due to likely “sea sickness” while another believed a garden was too small for a trampoline.

Mr Murphy said such people “were making a total joke of the system and tying up valuable time which could be given to decent people who need housing”.

He said such refusals were leading to housing remaining idle for longer.

“Something has to be done about such cases because it is totally unacceptable,” said the Kinsale-based councillor.

In parts of Cork county, refusal rates for home offers from the council have been in excess of 40%.

The Mayor of County Cork, John Paul O’Shea (Ind), said he encountered a case where a woman had been offered a house close to a main road, but refused it as she was worried about her young son’s safety, running out onto the road.

“She could have put a lock on the gate. Her excuse wasn’t legitimate,” he said. .

He said a new online system being introduced later this year, in County Hall, should help the situation.

“At present, applicants have to specify three areas of choice [for housing]. If they put down three areas then they must expect to have to move into any of them.

“Some people are only putting down one area and that’s restricting their chances because, unfortunately, we don’t have houses available in every village and town in the county,” he said.

The new online system —choice-based letting (CBL) — will speed up the allocation of houses as council officials would only offer them to people who had expressed an interest in the first place.

Vacant houses will be advertised online and all qualified social housing applicants will have access to the system, via a user ID and PIN code. Mr O’Shea said the system would be a more realistic approach.

“It’s disappointing some people are doing this because we are putting a lot of money into renovating houses.”

The proposed system, meanwhile, is to be rolled out in North Cork this summer and to the rest of the county by the year end.

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