Less time to accept for people offered social housing in Cork

People being offered local authority housing in Co Cork will have less time to either accept or refuse properties, under plans to speed up turnaround times.

Furthermore, three refusals will lead to applicants being taken off the housing waiting list.

Details of the proposals were contained in a report compiled by the council’s Special Purposes Committee (SPC) on Housing.

The report, ratified by councillors, stated that cutting the time for a reply will reduce turnaround times for allocating vacant houses, result in more rental income for the local authority and reduce the risk of vandalism to the property as it will reduce the time it is left idle.

Applicants being offered a home will have just seven days, instead of a previous 14, to advise the county council if they are accepting or rejecting the offer.

In future, when people on the housing waiting list refuse “three reasonable offers” of accommodation from the council or a voluntary housing agency, their “application will be closed”.

The report stated that “every effort will be made by the housing authority to match the needs of the applicant when offering accommodation”.

It also indicated an applicant will have a right to appeal being struck off the housing waiting list for three refusals.

Senior council officials recently reported several “spurious reasons” were given for refusing a house.

One woman, offered a house in Cobh refused it as it overlooked the sea and she was worried that she would suffer from seasickness.

In other cases, applicants refused houses as gardens were not big enough for children’s trampolines.

The Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Seamus McGrath successfully recommended the adoption of the report to his council colleagues.

However, Cllr Des O’Grady said Sinn Féin members had an issue with the document.

After council officials said an offer of accommodation would be made to the applicant through registered post, Cllr O’Grady said he was concerned an applicant would be sick and in hospital when it arrived, or they might be illiterate and unable to understand the letter.

He felt it would be better if officials in the housing department contacted the applicant directly by telephone.

Council chief executive Tim Lucey said he would be concerned the intended person might not take the phone call and if this happened the message to the applicant might not be passed on.

After some debate, Mr Lucey said that the council would stick to issuing a registered letter to the applicant and follow it up with a phone call if there had been no contact after a seven-day period had elapsed.

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