Simon Community welcome increase in Rent Supplement

The housing and homelessness charity say Rent Supplement and HAP payments must be in line with market rents

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Dublin Simon Community have welcomed proposals by Cabinet to increase Rent Supplement. The homeless and housing charity said that payment levels must be aligned with market rents. Rents have increased by 32.3% since April 2012 while rent limits have remained unchanged since June 2013. Rent supplement spend actually reduced by 40% between 2011 and 2015.

The Dublin Simon Community said that the numbers of people becoming homeless has been growing at alarming levels.

‘Homelessness can and should be prevented; keeping people in their homes is critical to preventing the stress and trauma of homelessness for more people and families. A study done by the Simon Communities of Ireland showed that 95% of properties available to rent are priced beyond the reach of people, depending on state rent supports for their housing. We are encouraged that Ministers Coveney and Varadkar have announced that there will finally be a move to address this but we stress that the payments must be in line with market rents in order for this to be effective. It is also vital that people living in the private rented sector have full rent certainty with rent linked to the Consumer Price Index. This gives both tenants and landlords security of tenure.’

‘In terms of the private rental sector, we are also concerned at the high number of buy-to-let properties in distress which has the potential to drive more people into homelessness. While these properties may not be mortgage holders’ principle residence, they are someone’s home. Measures must be put in place to ensure these tenants are protected and that a further reduction in the number of properties in the private rented sector is avoided. These measures must include a requirement for financial institutions, including vulture funds, to sign up to best practice guidelines, for example those developed by the Residents Tenancies Board (RTB), to be used where there are mortgage arrears on buy-to-let properties, including where properties are in receivership or facing repossession.’

‘The private rental sector, home ownership, social housing and homelessness are all interconnected. At the moment, the system is very dependent on the private sector to provide people with homes. It is vital that Local Authorities and approved housing bodies are given the resources to start to provide social housing. A total of over 13,000 social housing units were delivered in 2015 through a range of programmes and schemes with only 28 houses actually being built, meanwhile there are at least 100,000 households on the social housing waiting list. People must have access to decent, affordable housing.’

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