Decision on rent was Kafkaesque, claims graduate

A university graduate earning €200 weekly who says it is “near impossible” to get accommodation in Dublin below the €350 monthly limit for rent allowance payments has brought a legal challenge over a “Kafkaesque” decision refusing rent supplement towards his monthly rent of €450.

Liam Ward claims the refusal breaches ministerial guidelines aimed at helping tenants hold onto their accommodation at this time of high rents and when demand for rental properties in Dublin, especially for those on rent allowance, greatly exceeds the supply.

Mr Ward says that, without the supplement, he will be unable to pay his rent, faces eviction, and may be made homeless.

Mr Ward, earning €208 weekly on a community employment scheme, sought the €350 rent allowance payment towards his €450 monthly rent for a shared two-bed flat in Summerhill in Dublin’s north inner city.

He told the Department of Social Protection he would pay the €100 shortfall from his earnings and, in his application, also provided a printout of rental rates for two-bed properties in the Dublin inner city area, all of which were above the €350 limit.

His application was refused last November and again in January.

In light of ministerial guidelines giving officials a discretion to pay rent allowance for rents above €350 in exceptional circumstances, Mr Ward argues he should have been granted the allowance.

In High Court judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Social Protection, Mr Ward contends, before he can be lawfully refused rent supplement, he is entitled to have his application decided in line with the guidelines.

After his initial application was refused, Mr Ward sought a re-examination of it in accordance with the guidelines.

The deciding officer had said he did not consider the €20 weekly extra being received by Mr Ward under the scheme (which would be some €80 a month) would make up the €100 shortfall between the statutory maximum rent allowance limit of €350 and the €450 rent being paid by Mr Ward.

On that basis, the officer refused to exercise his discretion to grant Mr Ward rent supplement.

That reasoning, Mr Ward claims, was “Kafkaesque” and breaches his rights to natural justice and fair procedures.


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