Local Gardai have expressed their annoyance at the lack of communication from Longford Co Council in relation to troublesome tenants. News of the problem faced by gardai and housing officials came at a Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting in Longford on Monday following the recent eviction of a family in the Granard policing district of the county.
At the meeting, concerns were expressed about the level of correspondence received by gardai from Longford Co Council when a tenant or family believed to have links to criminality moves into an area.
In accordance with the provisions set out on in the Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2009, Granard based Superintendent Dermot Mann said gardai have little or no power to stop troublesome tenants from moving into private rented accommodation. The local authority has no control over tenants who move into private rented accommodation either.
However Supt Mann pointed out that when a troublesome resident moves from Granard to another county, gardai receive considerable correspondence from the local authority in that county. He said that by comparison, Granard Gardai receive little notification from the Co Council when troublesome tenants move to Granard from other parts of the county.
“What I have noticed in Granard is that we are getting quite a lot of communication from other councils. For example if they see that someone from Granard or Longford is moving into their area they write to us and ask us as they are entitled to under that piece of legislation (Housing Act) and we are entitled to talk to them about that particular person. Longford may well be doing this in respect of other people who are intending to move to Longford, but what I am saying is there is more room for them to write to us as well,” he said.
Supt Mann said there were instances in recent months where invaluable Garda information could have been passed on to housing officials before any move or housing transfer was rubber-stamped.
“I know of one family who are moving out of the Dublin area [to Co Longford] because of crime that they are involved in up there and they would have connections in Granard. There would be information there that I would be able to provide,” he told elected members inside the chamber of Longford County Council.
Cllr Peggy Nolan, who was standing in for chairperson Cllr Sean Farrell, said the construction boom of the late nineties and early part of the last decade had only served to exacerbate the problem.
“For example to rent a house in Dublin, the HSE’s rent allowance is (costing) about €1,200 per month. It is a saving to the State of over €500 if those people are directed to Longford. We know that it is happening and that there are undesirables (moving here),” she said.
Longford County Councillor Tom Victory, who works for the HSE, agreed saying the need to introduce more rigorous legislation was never more pressing.
“Unfortunately we had a meeting of the HSE one day. If someone is on rent allowance in Dublin, they can automatically move (their) rent allowance to our area,” he said.
In response, Supt Mann conceded there was little room for manoeuvre when individuals or families suspected of being involved in crime move from public to private accommodation. The Garda chief nonetheless claimed improvements in consultation involving Longford County Council and gardai could still be made when dealing with the area of local authority housing.