Landlords running in local elections should declare property interests

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Sinn FŽéin local election candidate Sharon Benson
Sinn FŽéin local election candidate Sharon Benson

ALL local election candidates running for seats on Limerick City and County Council should be obliged to declare their property interests and in particular whether or not they are currently landlords.

That’s the view of Sinn Féin Limerick City North candidate Sharon Benson who says that landlords have been the big winners in the current housing crisis.

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“A Daft.ie report this week shows landlords in Limerick raised rents by 16.7 per cent in the past year alone. The housing crisis has gripped Limerick City tighter than most places with many struggling to pay high rents, and others finding it impossible to secure suitable homes for their families,” she claimed.

“Landlords have been the big winner as a result of this crisis. I am calling on all the candidates running for seats on Limerick City and County Council to declare whether or not they are currently a landlord.”

The Caherdavin-based candidate revealed that through her work in Deputy Maurice Quinlivan’s constituency office, she meets families who have been forced out of their rented homes due to landlords hiking up the rent to extortionate levels.

“Many more are being forced to live in sub-standard conditions, often with no heating or issues with damp and mould, because their landlords are refusing to carry out repairs. Tenants worry that if they complain, they could be turfed out on the street.

“Although I fully recognise these unscrupulous landlords only represent a small fraction of the total number, it is a real problem in Limerick City. It is only right and proper that all candidates running in the local elections in Limerick declare their property interests for the sake of transparency.

“The five Sinn Féin candidates running in the Limerick City wards are not landlords, and we are happy to declare that at this stage. We think others should do likewise,” she said.

Meanwhile, Labour Party Housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan has criticised the Government for persisting in pouring more money into the pockets of private landlords rather than ramping up construction of social and affordable homes on publicly owned land.

“The latest figures for housing delivery reveal that 69 per cent of the homes delivered came through the Housing Assistance Payment. This pours money straight into the pockets of private landlords. It is not sustainable and it is not good value for money,” she declared.

“The State owns enough land to build enough social and affordable homes to solve the problem. With a recovered economy, the growing dependence on HAP is the wrong policy. The ‘going in the right direction’ argument just doesn’t stand up,” she concluded.