Payments system failing Limerick tenants

Senator Paul Gavan.

A LIMERICK politician has called on the Government to radically reform the Housing Assistants Payment (HAP) Scheme, which currently supports thousands of tenants across the city and county.

Sinn Fein Senator Paul Gavan believes HAP, which is a form of social housing support for people who have a long term housing need, is “deeply flawed” and loaded in favour of landlords. It is planned that this system will replace long-term Rent Supplement.

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“HAP gives no security of tenure to tenants, even as it insists on tying tenants into a two year sign up on their side. It’s a one-sided approach where landlords hold all the cards. It enables landlords to operate short term tenancies, typically of 12 months duration leading to constant insecurity for tenants. If a tenant wants to insist that proper maintenance is carried out on their home, the landlord can just decide not to renew the lease,” Senator Gavan claimed.

“The HAP system also operates in practice through cash payment top-ups by tenants to landlords. These payments are made in addition to the weekly contribution paid by tenants to the council. The cash sums involved can be as high as €500 per month.”

The Castleconnell-based Senator continued, “HAP amounts to a massive state subsidy for private landlords. The government should be building public housing on a major scale-something they forgot to do for the last 20 years. Instead we have a system rigged in favour of wealthy landlords”.