Private Tenants made homeless as rents rise

Privately renting tenants in the Republic are facing huge rent hikes and the thousands of families depending on rent subsidy are threatened by eviction due to decades of Government policies promoting the privatisation of housing.

According to Workers’ Party representative in Dublin Mid-west, Lorraine Hennessy, evidence of increasing pressure on tenants is mounting.

“Landlords know they can get much higher rents, subsidies have been cut and pressure is put on tenants to move out to make way for those who can afford the higher rents even in grossly substandard accommodation,” she said.

“These tenants have nowhere to go and homelessness is the reality facing many.”

Successive Irish governments have followed an ideologically-driven policy of reneging on the State’s responsibility for housing provision. This has been supported by all major Dáil parties since the 1980’s. Instead, measures were introduced to encourage private sector interest in the housing area, such as the reduction of Capital Gains Tax from 60% to 20% and millions spent subsidising landlords through rental assistance.

Hennessy said: “Despite handing over responsibility for housing – the most basic of human needs – to profiteering landlords, no accompanying measures were introduced to protect tenants.”

With house prices now rising faster than any other EU country, Ireland is facing another housing bubble. Deutsche Bank’s recent acquisition of hundreds of houses from Danske Bank as they exit Ireland is helping drive prices beyond the reach of ordinary families.

Hennessy said: “Danske has forced one Clondalkin landlord into receivership leaving his tenants facing an uncertain future. Some tenants claim they have had verbal requests to leave from the housing agent representing the receiver. The housing needs of tenants are a trifling matter as powerful wealthy investors plan for maximum profits.

“More than a decade ago, The Workers’ Party pointed out the need for a Housing Regulator. Regulation is needed in land and house prices as well as ensuring that new buildings are of a quality standard. There is an urgent need for local authorities to immediately start a major house building programme to provide sustainable communities. Tenants’ rights including control of rents and security of tenure need to be enshrined in law. Unless there are immediate measures taken to provide adequate accommodation for families many children will have unstable and insecure childhoods moving from place to place and our society will suffer the consequences.”

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