Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has urged local authorities to purchase homes where a tenant is facing eviction.
Speaking at the launch of a campaign to encourage tenants in the private rented sector to know and vindicate their rights, he said local authorities should be buying properties where a social tenant is facing homelessness.
His comments come amid inconsistencies among the approaches taken by councils following a circular from his Department titled Arrangements for Social Housing Acquisitions in 2022, issued in January. It says there is “limited scope” for acquisitions and these should be focused on “priority areas”. A number of councils, including in Dublin, have interpreted this to mean they should purchase only new-builds.
Activists and oppositions housing spokespeople say this has led to tenants in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) or in Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) properties — ie entitled to social housing — facing homelessness when their landlord intends selling the property, where in the past their council could have bought the dwelling.
Mr O’Brien said on Tuesday: “We are also pushing forward with enabling local authorities to purchase properties where a tenant is in situ, where they are is in a HAP tenancy and they have a notice to quit. I want our local authorities to purchase those homes and they know that.”
He said he wanted tenants in the sector to be aware of their rights, and to vindicate them were they are breached. His Department is supporting the Know Your Rights campaign, by Threshold.
The charity published survey results on Tuesday showing almost three quarters (74 per cent) of private renters said it was common” to have to put up with mould or damp, a third had experienced an “unfair eviction”, and, almost half have had a landlord withhold their security deposit “unfairly”.
“In the midst of an unprecedented cost of living crisis, we are seeing more insecure tenancies, standards slipping and rental properties becoming more difficult to find, while rents continue to rise, leading to increasingly severe problems for renters,” said Threshold’s chief executive John Mark McCafferty.
Threshold can be contacted via threshold.ie or confidentially on freephone 1800 454 454.