Councillor Padraig Conneely has called upon the Private Rental Tenancy Board (PRTB ) to appear before the next meeting of the Joint Policing Commitee in January in a bid to protect residents from unruly neighbours
Following widespread dissatisfaction with the gardai and universities in dealing with anti-social behaviour, Conneely who is chairman of the Joint Policing Commitee said: “Something needs to be done to act quickly and deal with perpetrators of anti-social behaviour.”
Residents across the city have been forced to move from their homes due to continuous, and distressing disturbances from neighbours. Students have been seen terrorising the houses of elderly residents and others, while the responsibilty, and power to deal with problems, lies with a State agency in Dublin.
The Galway City Council along with other councils has in place an anti-social behaviour policy, but this policing strategy only extends to council housing tenants. Under this policy the council has the power to exchange information on tenants with the gardai, and if they wish, evict them from both the house they live in, and the estate where they are causing the disturbance.
As the majority of problems are resonating from the private rental sector, Councillor Conneely said his biggest issue with private landlords is that the council has no power over them, Councillors can not access information on them, or evict troublesome tenants in private properties.
The PRTB, the government agency based in Dublin, is in charge of dealing with anti-social behaviour in the private rental sector, however Conneely says that the agency cannot work efficiently to deal with day to day issues.
“I have had problems with the PRTB for a number of years, and it is very slow to take action. I have received more complaints this year than any other, and I have requested, as chairman of the Joint Policing Commitee, that a representative from the PRTB appear before the next meeting of our commitee in January.”
Councillor Conneely says the problem with the agency is that it is not regionalised. He is calling on the state agency to provide local representatives to deal with local issues. “The PRTB should be more accessible, and make it easier to deal with problems. At the moment due to a back log it could take up to a year to deal with cases, and at that stage the tenants have often moved on, and students have finished. We need to see how we can fast track this organistaion to help people in problematic areas, as at the moment the council and Gardai have no power. Even if landlords want to remove tenants it often seems that the rights are with the tenant, and it can be difficult to have them removed. I have seen cases where landlords cannot get tenants removed due to agencies like Threshold, and the PRTB, but now we need to break down red tape, and have someone on the ground”.
Conneely says he wants a liason officer assigned so there can be no delays in dealing with anti-social problems. This would allow an agent to call to homes and assess problems efficiently, he says.
In response to the recent disturbances from local students Councillor Conneely said: “This year students appear to have become more aggressive, with more money to spend on alcohol. There are some very fine students in this city and they bring a great deal to the city, but a small minority are causing problems, and that element needs to be weeded out. All agencies need to work together to eradicate these issues”.