By Emmett Corcoran
In a recent parliamentary enquiry, Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane sought clarity on an issue faced by local authority tenants housed with approved housing bodies (AHBs). The question addressed a confusing situation for tenants seeking transfers, where both local authorities and AHBs seem to deflect responsibility onto each other.
According to Deputy Kerrane, this has left many tenants in a state of uncertainty regarding their eligibility and process for transferring to different dwellings. She asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he: “…will advise on the situation where local authority tenants who are housed with approved housing bodies and wish to transfer are informed by the AHB that this is the responsibility of the local authority, which in turn states that it is the responsibility of the AHB; if he will clarify which body is reasonable for transfer…”
Responding to Deputy Kerrane’s question, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien provided a clarification. He stated: “Matters in relation to the allocation of social dwellings, including the transfer of sitting tenants to other dwellings, are the responsibility of the respective local authorities. I have no function in this matter”.
This statement appears to place the responsibility for the transfer of tenants with local authorities, not AHBs.
Minister O’Brien further elaborated that there are no legislative or policy barriers preventing a tenant in an AHB social dwelling, who was initially placed via a local authority’s social housing waiting list, from applying to be placed on a local authority transfer list. He emphasised that such transfers are indeed facilitated by local authorities as per their respective allocation schemes.
The response from the minister clarifies the existing rules and procedures, providing a clear directive for tenants seeking transfers. It highlights the role of local authorities in handling these requests, thereby streamlining the process and eliminating confusion caused by the perceived overlap of responsibilities between local authorities and AHBs.
For tenants, this means they can directly approach their local authority for transfer requests, ensuring a more straightforward and transparent process.
Commenting on the parliamentary exchange, Deputy Kerrane said: “I welcome the clarification from the minister on this important matter. The housing system can be a difficult one to manoeuvre and it is important that all tenants know their rights and responsibilities. Housing transfers are an important component of housing and those seeking them need to be clear on the process”.