Pensioner is ‘terrified’ after being told to vacate rented home

Anthony Treacy (77) is among a growing number of older people caught in a housing limbo

Anthony Treacy (77) is "hurt and terrified" at the thought of having to leave his home in Clongriffin, Dublin, early next year.

After almost a decade in his “lovely” one-bedroom apartment, his landlord contacted him by registered post earlier this month telling him he “must give up possession of the dwelling” in five months.

Though he is on Dublin City Council’s waiting list for older people’s housing, he has been told, as he is 188th on the waiting list in his area, he will not be housed “at present”. The council has advised him to inquire with housing charities, and to contact homeless services.

He is one of a growing number of single older people impacted by a dearth of one-bedroom social housing dwellings in the capital.

While numbers on Dublin city’s general housing list have fallen by 11 per cent since January 2016 from 22,355 households to 19,752 in July this year (following a council review last year which saw one in five households struck off the list), numbers waiting for “older persons” housing have increased by 29 per cent, from 1,161 households to 1,504 in the same 19 months.

Rent supplement

Mr Treacy has been paying €900 a month for his ground-floor apartment, towards which he gets rent supplement.

His income is the State pension of €214.200 per week, plus a "small private pension" from his 40 years working as a printer, with the Irish Press and later with Jefferson Smurfit.

“I am extremely happy where I am. I have been there almost nine years and I have lovely neighbours. They are very helpful. I love it.”

“I never missed my rent, ever and only met my landlord a few times, to renew the lease. I never asked him to do anything and I kept the apartment to the highest standards.”

Agreeing, his daughter Ruth Heffernan, tells how he "made it comfortable for himself and he kept the garden in the front lovely".

In the first week of October Mr Treacy received a declaration, signed by his landlord, telling him: “Your tenancy will terminate on 06/03/2018. You must vacate and give up possession of the dwelling on or before the termination date. The reason for the termination of the tenancy is that the landlord requires the possession of the property . . . for his own occupation.”

He says both the letter and its tone were “a huge shock”.

No indication

“I had no indication whatsoever that this was going to happen. It was the way it was said as well. There was nothing personal, no concern that it could be difficult for me to leave my home. If he’d even just come and talked to me and told me, ‘Look I’m sorry but this is what I have to do’. It was as if all the years I lived here and my home, meant nothing. I have shown him a lot of loyalty. It was just so cold.”

Ms Heffernan, who lives in Raheny, says he could live with her family but as he cannot manage stairs would have to have a bedroom and bathroom put in on the ground floor. "And he is very private and independent. He needs his own space." Her father nods in agreement.

“I am trying everything I can to get my dad a small place he can call home. But his apartment has become part of his life. He’s great there, part of a community that loves him.”

He is just out of hospital for heart surgery. “It’s very hard to concentrate on getting better when you don’t know where you’re going to end up,” he says.

His landlord did not return contacts from The Irish Times.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times