McGrath asks if Dáil landlords are discriminating against those on rent supplement

Independent TD says he guesses there is a ‘substantial number’

Independent TD Finian McGrath  said it was time to get away from the mentality, which seemed to be part of the Government’s view, that some people on welfare were scroungers. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Independent TD Finian McGrath said it was time to get away from the mentality, which seemed to be part of the Government’s view, that some people on welfare were scroungers. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 01:00

Independent TD Finian McGrath asked if there were TDs with property interests discriminating against people relying on rent supplement.

He said a number of homeless people had asked him to raise the issue in the House.

“They asked me how many politicians in the Dáil are landlords, how many of them are renting out lots of accommodation, and how many are discriminating against people on rent supplement. I would guess there is a substantial number here.’’

Mr McGrath, speaking during a debate on housing and homelessness, said it was time to get away from the mentality, which seemed to be part of the Government’s view, that some people on welfare were scroungers.

“Let me say that the vast majority of the people I know want to pay their way, and they would love to have a job and their own house and, if they are in rented accommodation, they would love to have enough to pay a proper rent.’’

Homelessness
Andrew Doyle (FG) said at last there was some recognition of the need to address the issue of not just homelessness but the dearth of housing. The problem in the past was that houses were poorly built in the wrong place and cost too much. “It beggars belief that we should have a discussion about homelessness or a shortage of housing, but we do.’’

He said that in 2010 the Construction Industry Federation conducted a survey which showed that Limerick city, followed by Wicklow, Kildare, Limerick county, Cork city and Waterford had the least amount of reserve housing stock available outside Dublin, and it flagged that there was going to be a problem.

Selling properties
Thomas Broughan (Ind) said he had been approached by numerous constituents who were on the rental accommodation scheme (RAS) and whose landlords were now selling the properties in which they were living. “They will effectively be left homeless, with nowhere to go. To date, in 2014, perhaps only five or six new RAS properties have become available.’’

Mr Broughan said rent supplement was a vital support, but it was only a short to medium-term measure. The 78,000 people receiving it did not have security of tenure.

Róisín Shortall (Ind) said the housing situation had become particularly acute in the Dublin area in the past 18 months. In previous years those who experienced the greatest difficulties finding accommodation would mainly be single or separated people or those with addiction problems. But now in her Dublin North West constituency, and she believed in the greater Dublin area, there was a noticeable increase in the number of families no longer able to afford to rent.