Families in transitional housing face possibility of eviction

Tenants in Tallaght scheme told they must leave at end of 18-month tenancy

Stephanie Yeates and her son and Carter; Catherine Smith; Ismail Olujoog; and Cllr Brian Leech. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Stephanie Yeates and her son and Carter; Catherine Smith; Ismail Olujoog; and Cllr Brian Leech. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

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Families in transitional housing who were removed from the homelessness figures when they were recalculated could now face eviction so that they will not accrue tenancy rights.

Notices have been sent to families from Túath Housing telling them they will have to leave at the end of an 18-month stay.

“The reason for termination of the tenancy is due to the expiration of the transitional tenancy agreement term of 18 months,” notices have said.

Housing body Túath Housing has managed 65 apartments at Tallaght Cross on behalf of South Dublin County Council, as “transitional housing” for homeless families since mid-2016.

Families here had been counted among the monthly homelessness figures but earlier this year were among 1,600 people recategorised as “accessing homeless services”. They were removed from the statistics as they were in “own-door” accommodation, a spokeswoman for the Dublin Region Homeless Executive confirmed.

Defending the recategorisation in October, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the families were at “no risk of going into emergency accommodation”.

However, as these apartments are designated “transitional”, families cannot stay longer than 18 months.

When Catherine Smith (36) and her two daughters, aged three and 13, secured an apartment in Tallaght Cross in April 2016 she believed her family’s homelessness was over.

Having been homeless for more than two years, staying in hotels and a family hub, she was told she could stay in the apartment for 18 months and would be helped find a home in the private-rented sector. But now they face returning to a hotel or hub, and rejoining the homelessness figures.

Exemption

Under the 2004 Residential Tenancies Act “transitional housing” is exempt from part four of the Act, which provides for the security of a six-year tenancy. Though it does not state what happens if a resident stays longer than 18 months, “the inference is that this exemption may no longer apply, and the security of tenure rights may then accrue for the tenant”, said a spokeswoman for the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

At the end of August, Ms Smith got notice from Túath Housing to leave by October 12th.

“I nearly had a nervous breakdown when I went to the council with the letter,” she says. “I told them I can’t go back to a hub or a hotel. How could I tell my daughters that? My 13-year-old’s confidence was so badly knocked when we were in the hub.

“I told them I’d be better off throwing myself under a bus. At least my kids would have a home, they’d be taken into care and they’d be better off. I can’t give my children a home.”

She has “applied for thousands of properties” and got three viewings with the help of her Focus Ireland key worker. “I didn’t succeed in any of them.”

She was called to a dispute resolution at the RTB at the end of November which found in favour of Túath.

“I was told I could appeal but it’s €100,” Ms Smith said. She is in her second year studying at An Cosán adult education in Tallaght. After paying for her daughter’s dance classes and making repayments on a loan, she has a net weekly income of €180. She pays €28 a week rent to Túath. She is now “overholding” her tenancy and could face eviction though she has not yet received further notices from Túath. Local councillor Brian Leech is calling a meeting of all affected families on Monday and he has advised families to overhold.

Other Tallaght Cross families affected at present are Stephanie Yeates (27) and her son Carson (3); and Ismail Olujoog, his wife and six children.

“We don’t know who we are or where we stand,” said Ms Yeates.

Support

A Túath spokeswoman said: “While residing in Tallaght Cross tenants . . . are supported by Focus Ireland in their search for long-term homes. For the few who don’t engage with the offered support, it is with regret that the association must terminate the tenancy in order not to compromise the transitional nature of this scheme for future users.”

A council spokesman said: “Tallaght Cross is transitional housing where families are provided with a maximum occupation time of 18 months. We continue to work with Túath and the families to ensure that families whose . . . tenancies are nearing completion do not have to return more temporary emergency accommodation.”

A Department of Housing spokesman said: “Nobody has ever been evicted from Tallaght Cross and nobody will be evicted.”

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