People Before Profit local election candidate Barbara Smyth
An increasing number of local authority housing tenants face being pushed into debt because of “unfair and mean spirited” rent review hikes.
People Before Profit local election candidate Barbara Smyth hit out at Longford County Council’s decision to cap increases at €35 on the principal tenant plus €15 for every subsequent occupier where the former is in receipt of a non-contributory old age pension.
There had been calls from some quarters for any review to be set at a ceiling of €25 following a wave of public indignation at the proposed changes.
A special meeting, held ‘in committee’, or without the media being present, signed off on the agreed reforms with the council insisting all income derived from the scheme would be “ringfenced for the maintenance and improvement” of its housing stock.
However, Ms Smyth said the decision did not go far enough, branding the rejection of a previously suggested €25 cap as nothing short of “devastating”.
She said: “After over a decade of austerity measures, high unemployment and ever increasing household bills, it is staggering to see a Dublin centric recovery being foisted on Council tenants in Longford, many of whom already struggle to live week to week.”
“The fact that no rent review has taken place for 10 years is not the fault of council tenants, but they are the ones seeing rents, in some cases, double, overnight.
“You can be assured council tenants income has not doubled overnight.
“I understand a rent review was needed, however the level of rent increase is both unfair and mean spirited.”
In outlining the changes, the Council said the scope of its appeal process would be widened to facilitate genuine cases of financial hardship, with the onus being on the tenant to provide evidence of such.
It also confirmed a full review would be carried out every 3 years from 2019 onwards.