The move by Cork City Council has sparked outrage, and has prompted the calling of a public meeting in the city later this week.
City Hall defended it “as standard practice” and said the information requested of its almost 9,000 tenants could actually result in rent reductions for some.
“We operate a differential rent scheme and need to update our information to ensure that we are being fair to all of our tenants,” a spokesperson said.
“In fact, we expect to see substantial numbers who will see rent reductions, because their circumstances could have changed substantially since the last review was conducted, pre-recession.”
But the People’s Convention called on the council last night to scrap the review and start it again in a more “respectful manner”.
“This rent review amounts to a scam by City Hall,” spokesman Diarmaid Ó Cadhla said. “They should withdraw the letter and re-start the rent review without such demands.”
Cork City Council introduced a differential rents scheme in January 2014 in a bid to achieve equitable rents for all of its tenants based on the entire income of a household. It uses a complex formula involving weekly income allowances for each individual to calculate each household’s rent.
However, delays in a national rent review has forced local authorities to conduct their own reviews.
The Irish Examiner has seen the letter issued by Cork City Council.
In it the council said it requires each of its tenants, under Section 61 of the Housing Act, 1966, to supply details of all those living in the council-owned homes, and their income.
It asks for PPS numbers, for employment details, copies of three of the most recent payslips, a set of accounts from the self-employed, and details of social welfare payments where applicable.
It says if income relating to a member of the household which is not declared now comes to light later, a backdated rent calculation will be carried out, and if necessary, arrears will be added to a tenant’s rent account.
The People’s Convention has criticised the tone of a section which reads: “Under the powers of the housing Act 1966, Cork City Council will increase your weekly rent unless full and accurate information is submitted.
“Non-return of income details/rent review form will result in an initial penalty of €25 per week being added to your current rent.”
Tenants have also been warned that giving false information could lead to tenancies being terminated.
The People’s Convention spokesperson Diarmaid Ó Cadhla criticised the council’s approach: “The letters go far beyond what is normal in a rent review — asking for extensive proofs and access to private information on every member of a household, including children.
“Effectively, council is asking people to give up the privacy of entire families, and they are doing this under threat.”
He said many concerned tenants highlight the fact City Hall has already passed their details to Irish Water.
The issue will be discussed at a public meeting in the Mahon Community Centre at 3pm on Thursday.