Local Independent Councillor slams own local authority over rent increases

Independent Councillor, Paul Hogan, slammed Westmeath County Council’s differential rent review during the local authority’s monthly meeting in Athlone.

The Athlone Area Councillor claimed that 75 percent of council tenancies will experience a rent increase under the new scheme, which comes into force from February 3, 2019. Hogan stated that the rent increases of up to €2500 per annum were inequitable and unacceptable.

“A new Differential Rent Scheme will come into place for all council tenants on February 3, 2019. Under this scheme, 75 percent of tenancies will experience a rent increase of up to €2,500 per annum. From information obtained at the meeting, 339 tenancies will experience a reduction, 332 tenancies will experience no change, 1207 tenancies will experience an increase of up to €20 per week, 318 tenancies will experience an increase of between €20 and €40, 169 tenancies will experience a rent increase greater than €41, while 108 will be required to pay the maximum rent for failure to reply to the review.

“This rent review is very unfair as the assessment for additional incomes increases from 10 percent to 20 percent. This will particularly impact those in receipt of carer’s allowance, family income supplement, child benefit and any other additional income.

“This Differential Rent Scheme represents a power grab by the Executive and the Government. I can recall voting on rent schemes in the past but now the Executive is saying that Councillors have no legislative basis regarding the making or revoking of a rent scheme.

The Independent Councillor noted that the backdrop to the Differential Rent Scheme is the desire to have a National Rent Scheme.

“The backdrop to this scheme is a desired National Rent Scheme. National rent schemes are not new. In 1986, the State abandoned the national rent scheme as it was inequitable and unfair. I have huge concerns regarding being matched against Dublin rents.

“Across Ireland today, one in six children are at risk of poverty. This rent scheme has the potential to significantly impact families and drive them into poverty.

“Westmeath’s Differential Rent Scheme is unacceptable and inequitable. I will oppose it at every opportunity. It was agreed to write to the Minister asking why it has taken nine years for the section of an act giving the power to Councillors to make and revoke a rent scheme to commence,” Cllr. Hogan concluded.

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