What happens to HAP or RAS tenants in a tight housing market when their landlord decides to sell?
“They end up either in Teach Fáilte or in a hostel or in a B&B or in a hotel – always homeless or couch surfing,” summarized Cllr Ken Glynn during a CPS meeting last week. housing, community, business and culture from Westmeath County Council.
Worse still, some families have to live apart.
The scale of the housing crisis has been repeatedly explained by elected officials, who are particularly unhappy with the lack of a system for purchasing rental housing offered for sale.
Cllr Mick Dollard said many homes that were previously available to HAP or RAS tenants are currently being sold, and he wonders where tenants of these properties can now find accommodation.
In cases where people have been renters for 10 or 12 years, he wondered if buying homes for them might be an option – if not the only choice many of these families have, he said. is to declare oneself homeless.
Councilor Dollard was concerned about a woman and her children, long-term tenants of a housing estate in Mullingar, who had recently been given two months’ notice, while Councilor Vinny McCormack was also keen for the executive to expose the circumstances under which the board would consider an acquisition. Cllr McCormack said he had raised the case of a four-bedroom house in Ballymore which could have been acquired for £200,000 for a family in need, but was told the council was not actively considering a acquisitions.
“Then on the other hand, I hear about sales being made on acquisitions. So we’re a bit in the dark, I guess, as to how the whole process around acquisitions works,” he said. declared.
Cllr Andrew Duncan said there are owners of HAP properties who would be interested in selling to the council: ‘I know from a housing perspective it won’t change your stats but it certainly can help in terms value for money. ,” he said.
Adding to advisers’ frustration is the existence of a newspaper article online indicating that the acquisition of houses for Ukrainian refugees could be sanctioned.
Cllr Glynn pointed out that when rents are increased, for RAS tenants there is a relief that the tenancy agreement is between the landlord and the council – but as far as HAP is concerned, the agreement is between the landlord and the tenant and it is the tenants who have to pay for the increase – and the rents are now in many cases in the four figures.
“The people on our housing list are low-income people,” he said.
The discussion arose during a presentation by director of consulting services Mark Keaveney, who responded that the acquisition is “always difficult”.
“Perhaps members should know that our discretion to acquire homes was removed at the end of last year from this year, but we have obtained acquisitions that meet certain criteria and the main criteria are single houses where there are homeless people, where there are four or more beds.”
Mr Keaveney said there had been discussions with the department and there could be relaxations to come, as well as relaxations of the rules on renting.