Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has today published a draft circular to ensure that local authorities adopt a consistent approach to purchasing private rental properties where a HAP, RAS or Rent Supplement in-situ has a notice to quit and is at risk of homelessness.
The draft circular is part of a package of emergency interventions that Sinn Féin has been urging the Minister to adopt in tandem with his winter ban on evictions.
Teachta Ó Broin said:
“The Department of Housing’s September homeless report shows that the number of adults and children in emergency accommodation funded by that Department has surged to 10,975.
“Last month saw a disturbing increase in family and child homelessness with an increase in child homelessness of 122 on August’s figures. There are now more than 3,342 children sleeping in hotels, hostels and HUBs.
“With the winter ban on evictions due to come into effect next week the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien needs to outline what emergency interventions he intends to take to prevent homelessness.
“For months, we have been urging him to introduce a package of measures, in parallel with a winter ban on evictions, aimed at reducing the number of singles and families presenting as homeless as well as accelerating the delivery of social and affordable housing.
“One of these measures is an enhanced tenant-in-situ scheme where councils buy private rental properties with HAP, RAS or Rent Supplement tenants-in-situ with notices to quit and at risk of homelessness.
“Earlier this year, Darragh O’Brien gave local authorities what is known as ‘delegated authority’ to make decisions on such purchases. However, as local authorities still have to apply their standard allocations scheme, this means that the application of this ‘delegated authority’ is patchy and limited.
“Given the scale of the crisis and the need to ensure that the breathing space provided by the winter ban on evictions is properly used, Sinn Féin believe the tenant-in-situ scheme should be strengthened and a consistent approach taken by all councils.
“To this end, we have drafted a departmental circular and sent it to the Minister. The circular proposes suspending the normal social housing allocation rules for decisions on tenant-in-situ acquisitions. It also requires a ‘presumption to purchase’ and a requirement to do so in a timely manner, subject to price and condition of the property.
“The circular also requires Councils to consider the purchase of multi-unit developments, such as Tathony House, in Dublin 8, for either social rental or mixed tenure social and affordable cost rental where all tenants have received notices to quit.
“This is just one of a range of measures we have been proposing. To date, the Minister has not outlined what additional measures he intends to take over the winter period to reduce the level of homelessness while increasing the supply of social and affordable homes.”
Deputy Ó Broin’s draft circular can be read here.