Man (71) secures council house after landlord decided to sell
Predicament for man identified only as Frank points to big demographic challenge
“He had done nothing wrong; he has worked all his life.” Photograph: iStock
A 71-year-old man who was being put out of his home has been given a council apartment.
The pensioner was due to enter temporary accommodation from next week as his landlord had decided to sell the property and he was unable to find any alternative.
“He is not angry at anyone but it’s fairly scary at 71 not knowing where you are going to go,” said Seán Moynihan of the charity Alone, who had been in talks with the man, identified as Frank.
Frank’s story became known on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Friday. On the same programme Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty expressed incredulity at his dilemma and said she would try to help Frank.
“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,” she said.
Frank had lived in the property for the past seven years. The end of his tenancy meant he faced an uncertain future just days before Christmas.
He has been divorced for 25 years and was not in contact with his family. The rent for the house he had to vacate was €1,150 a month, paid for with his pension and earnings from odd jobs.
Although on a housing list and qualifying for the Housing Assistance Payment, he had been unable to find new accommodation.
“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,” Frank told Morning Ireland.
‘Should be a net’
Ms Doherty said that if the Housing Assistance Payment scheme needed to be tweaked specifically to look after, and give reassurances to, older people, ‘then she would look at that.
“I am going to engage with Frank personally this week. There should be a net protecting them,” she said.
Responding to the breakthrough, Mr Moynihan said Frank was “absolutely delighted” at having secured a one-bedroom apartment from Dublin City Council, but that his story was indicative of a much broader problem in Ireland’s deepening housing crisis.
“He realises he’s not the only one. He had done nothing wrong; he has worked all his life,” he said.
“For the last couple of years we have been struggling to try and get housing for older people.”
The number of households in Ireland with between one and two people has grown from about 375,000 in 1991 to about 900,000 today, Mr Moynihan said, adding that not enough is being done to plan for this changing demographic. There was also a need for long-term leases to protect people, he said.