Almost 6,000 tenants in rent arrears of over €11 million

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

New figures from South Dublin County Council have revealed that 5,859 rental accounts are in arrears, comprising 59 per cent of all council housing tenancies.

The council’s May 2022 finance report indicates that net arrears stood at €9.36 million or €11.66 million, when accounts in credit are excluded.

A written question to council management by Fine Gael group leader David McManus has revealed that there are currently 2,161 accounts in arrears less than six weeks and 1,283 in arrears between one and five years.

Council management has said that termination of tenancy and possession were being pursued through the courts for three tenants, with more expected. The average weekly rent charged under the Differential Rent Scheme in March 2020 was €55.24, compared to €47.79 in March 2019.

Commenting on this, Councillor David McManus said: ‘We charge some of the lowest council rents nationwide, yet we have the highest level of arrears, which is alarming. Council management will talk about recent COVID-19 restrictions but between 2014 and 2018, the arrears increased from €7.8 million to €8.1 million.”

He accused council management of failing to resolve the arrears which predate 2014, cautioning that this will have implications on the council’s ability to re-invest in its 10,000 council homes and to respond to maintenance requests by tenants.

He alluded to 67 tenancy agreements, which have been in arrears for longer than five years. “Unfortunately, if people don’t address their arrears, it’s a breach of the tenancy agreement. We shouldn’t be spending money on solicitors but we have no option but to seek possession of the property and offer the property to other tenants.

“Our council rents are calculated at 10 per cent of weekly household income with an average rent of €55 per week. So, during COVID-19, if a person went from earning €500 to then receiving the €350 PUP payment, their rent would be reduced from €50 to €35 per week which is very fair and progressive.

“Council management will always show compassion when engaging with genuine tenants in difficulty but tenants must engage or else face legal action”, he concluded.

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