Hundreds of council tenants to see their rents double

Hundreds of Cork County Council tenants will see their rents more than double as the local authority moves to standardise a countywide minimum rate.

It wants to increase the minimum rent to €25 per week and use the extra income to modernise its housing stock.

The scheme has been adopted in the South Cork area but is to be extended into the North and West divisions. The minimum in North Cork is €12 a week and €20 in West Cork.

Prior to now the council’s three divisions had autonomy to fix their own charges.

However, county manager Martin Riordan wants to change to what he feels is a more equitable system. He is setting aside €850,000 which would be divided equally to do up vacant houses and make improvements to occupied ones.

However, some councillors expressed concern that those who could least afford to pay would be hit hardest.

“We don’t believe this is right. It is not right that tenants will have to pay more so others can get repairs done to their homes,” said Cllr Paula Desmond (Lab).

Cllr Alan Coleman (FF) said the proposal was “deplorable” and money to improve local authority houses should come from the Department of Environment.

Cllr Veronica Neville (FG) circulated photos she had recently taken of damp-ridden council houses in Bandon, saying many of them were badly insulated and poorly ventilated.

“There was a constant under-investment in our houses for the past 20 years. We’re failing our social housing tenants. We passed the children’s referendum last Saturday but, yet, we still let many of them live in substandard conditions.”

She claimed the council was failing in its obligations to many tenants who should seek legal advice on their living conditions.

Cllr Noel Buckley (FG) said he knew of houses in North-West Cork where children had to wear coats to keep warm. He maintained it was “the wrong time to be raising rents”.

Cllr Pa O’Driscoll (FG) said a set minimum rate was unfair and would not happen in the private sector.

“Rents in that sector are set by location, access to facilities, and the state of the house,” he said.

Mr Riordan said the council “would be reasonable in dealing with hardship cases”.

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