“More oversight of Voluntary housing bodies needed” say TD.

Voluntary sector rent charges higher than many local authorities claims Brid Smith TD.Tenants face 1000 euro per year difference between local authority and voluntary housing rents”

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith has said that the rent charged by some voluntary housing agencies was out of synch with that charged by  local authorities  and needed firmer Government regulation. The deputy claimed that tenants cannot appeal rent rises by their voluntary agency to the RTB and effectively there was no control or oversight over these agencies.

In one case, Cluid had raised a tenants rent by 20 euro a week giving the tenant no right to appeal and the RTB are powerless to even examine the rise.

Bríd Smith TD said: “These tenants are dependent of social welfare, this represented a 38% increase in rent, and their incomes haven’t risen by anything like that. This is over 1000 euro for the year for people on very limited incomes.”

When the deputy raised the issue with Cluid and highlighted the potential difficulty for tenants she was told that the tenants should approach social welfare if they had difficulties managing.

“I find the response quiet shocking, this and other agencies are effectively funded heavily by the state to take tenants from the local authority waiting list yet seem immune to any oversight on the rent charged they levy.”

Both Rebuilding Ireland and other plans envision a larger role for voluntary housing bodies in the provision of social housing. “Given that” said Deputy Smith “we need much firmer legislation governing this sector, their rents charged and other issues. At the moment the legislation only talks about reasonable rent and sets a minimum charge but no upper limit.”

To add insult to injury, in the case highlighted, the local authority method of calculating these tenants’ rents would mean a lower rent for their tenants. Voluntary housing tenants are taken from the same waiting lists as that used by Local Authorities.

Deputy Smith stated that Cluid had changed the method of calculating their rent levels with no rights to appeal from tenants. “This is of particular concern as these agencies take their tenants from the local authority waiting lists, yet if this case is anything to go by, vulnerable tenants on social welfare could be paying 1000 euro more per year if they get a voluntary housing unit as opposed to a local authority unit. That can’t be acceptable.”