Anger at social housing rent rise

People in social housing throughout Co. Roscommon are very distressed over the fact that their rent has increased, even though their income has not, Fianna Fáil councillor Paschal Fitzmaurice, right,  has alleged. Describing the matter as an “absolute disgrace” and a “crisis”, he asked Roscommon County Council to immediately rectify the problem.

  Speaking at a meeting of Roscommon Municipal District, he said that he had been contacted by numerous people who has received rent increases over the past ten days.

  “A lot of people’s rent has gone up by maybe €10 a week, which is an awful lot of money for somebody who might be on only €250 or €230 of a pension or social welfare,” said Cllr. Fitzmaurice.

  “It is an absolute disgrace what has happened, where has a person who income has not increased in the last five years, suddenly has got something like a €10 increase in their rent.

  “It is heartbreaking for people…what is happening. Across the board, anybody I talk to, their rent has gone up – everybody. It’s an absolute disgrace. It’s a crisis for some people on very low incomes.”

  Cllr. Fitzmaurice said that the problem had been caused by a new rule had that had been set by the Department of Environment and subsequently implemented by Roscommon County Council.

  He said that previously social housing tenants did not pay a rent that involved more than 15 per cent of their income, but that now the council “are using the 10 and 20 per cent rule.”

  However, the Director of Services for Housing, John O’Rourke, said that there had been no change to the way rents were calculated.

  He said that a rent review of the council’s tenants was underway, in advance of a new rental scheme that is coming on stream. “Nobody’s rent has increased if their income has not increased,” said Mr O’Rourke.

  “What may have happened is somebody may have not responded to us and, in the interim, we may have put up their rent to the maximum until they respond.

  “When they respond, it will be adjusted, so that they will be at no loss.”