Social Democrats concern over Limerick housing crisis

Sarah Jane Hennelly.

THE recent threat of evictions to tenants by international vulture funds has highlighted the precarious nature of tenancies in the city.

That’s the view of Limerick Social Democrats chairperson Sarah Jane Hennelly, who has expressed concern over the shortage of accommodation and its effect on the home rental sector.

Figures released from Rebuilding Ireland in December showed an 11.2 per cent increase in the number of households qualifying for social housing in Limerick. This, coupled with a 13.4 per cent increase in house prices and a consequent rise in rent prices in the city, has generated raised concerns that the Government is failing to adequately protect tenants.

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“With increasing numbers of people unable to purchase homes, protecting renters is becoming more crucial,” Ms Hennelly said.

“What we have witnessed in the past week is a failure by Government, and in particular the Finance Minister, to protect tenants in the circumstances following the banking crisis. This, coupled with an increasing number of tenants in distress in Limerick City, and a 15.5 per cent increase in rental prices has left many tenants in a growing situation of uncertainty.”

The former Social Democrats General Election candidate for Limerick City added that the actions of the vulture funds has had differing effects for homeowners and tenants.

“While a resurgent housing market has been welcome for those in negative equity, we must also acknowledge that it has put pressure on those on lower incomes and insecure tenancies. If the government continues to fuel property prices, ignore growing social housing waiting lists, and fail to adequately protect tenants as was apparent through the strand evictions, then they are failing citizens in the provision of a right to shelter,” she told the Limerick Post.

The Social Democrats are also critical of the Government’s failure to anticipate that vulture funds would use Ireland’s lax tenant protection laws to evict tenants on short notice, and expressed concern for tenant rights in Limerick city.

They are calling for legislation that would protect tenants whose properties are being sold.

“Homelessness is seen as an issue solely or mostly as a result of addiction or mental health issues. The reality is the majority of new homeless are as a direct result of poor government policy in housing. There doesn’t seem to be a real desire to address this issue and that must be questioned. The effects of this are too great for us not to question this,” Ms Hennelly explained.

by Alan Jacques

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