Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has said that the next government must introduce a rent arrears debt scheme.
The call comes as figures from a renters survey hosted by Sinn Féin show that 60% of those who took part had lost income because of Covid-19, with a similar number concerned about mounting rent arrears.
Teachta Ó Broin said:“Sinn Féin launched an online survey for renters earlier this month to hear directly from private rental tenants about how Covid-19 was affecting them.
“Over 1,000 people took part in the survey, which had a good range in terms of location, age and income bracket.
“The main findings were that 60% had lost income because of Covid-19.
“Only a third of tenants had approached their landlord to ask for some form of rent relief. 39% of these described their landlord’s response was helpful with an equal number saying they were unhelpful.
“Since the introduction of the special Covid-19 rent supplement payment in March, the number of claims has increased by almost 40%, with latest figures showing that 7,030 claims are in payment with 1,350 applications pending.
“It is alarming that only 42% of those who participated in the survey said they were aware of the Covid-19 rent supplement. Of these, half applied and just over half of these were successful.
“Of the 60% of renters worried about post Covid-19 rent arrears debt, 68% expected to have arrears of up to €3000, while a further 13% expected the debt to be as much as €5000.
“The results of this survey show that there is an urgent need for Government to set out a plan for dealing with the rent arrears debt burden.
“Tenants should not be left to carry this this burden alone. A rent arrears debt scheme must be established as matter of urgency.”