‘How could any landlord put a 71-year-old man out on the street’
Elderly renters who cannot afford rising rents are ‘a ticking time-bomb’
The numbers of those aged over 60 on the social housing waiting list rose from 4,765 to 6,594 between 2013 and last year. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has questioned how a landlord could put a 71-year-old man out of his home in the lead up to Christmas.
The Minister was responding to a report on RTE’s Morning Ireland which highlighted the plight of a man named Frank, who is being made homeless as his landlord is selling the property he has lived in for the past seven years.
Frank’s situation was raised by the charity Alone which has described the plight of elderly renters who cannot afford rising rents as “a ticking time-bomb.”
“How could any landlord put a 71-year-old man out on the street Christmas week. That’s something that definitely needs to be looked at,” Ms Doherty said.
Alone chief executive Seán Moynihan said a growing number of older homeless people were knocking on the charity’s door every day.
The problem will increase as Ireland’s population ages with the number of those aged over 60 on the social housing waiting list rising from 4,765 to 6,594 between 2013 and last year, he said.
Frank said he has been told by Alone and Dublin City Council that he will probably end up in temporary accommodation next week. “They told me I’ll probably end up in a B&B. This is all new to me.”
He said he had been divorced for 25 years and was not in contact with his family. The rent for the house he has to leave is €1,150 a month and was paid for with his pension and earnings from odd jobs.
He said his greatest fear was that in the future, with rents increasing, he will not be able to earn money.
Frank said he is on a housing list and also qualifies for the Housing Assistance payment. However, he has been unable to find new accommodation.
“I have been approved for HAP. The landlords just look at me because of my age and say to themselves what’s wrong? There’s no feedback from them. They have my number I just don’t get a phone call from them”, he said.
The Minister said if HAP needs to be tweaked to specifically to look after, and give reassurances to older people, that is something she will look at.
She said she is willing to speak with Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy today to look at rental supplements and HAP.
“I am going to engage with Frank personally this week. There should be a net protecting them. We need to move to fill any gaps.”