Tenants rights in Galway city will be at the centre of discussions at next Monday’s Galway City Council meeting as councillors are concerned about security of tenure for those in rented accommodation.
Concerns over tenants’ rights led to a final decision on the Galway City Council handing over nine houses to the voluntary housing association HELM Housing Ltd being postponed until next week.
Councillors asked for more information and clarifications on the rights of tenants under the scheme to be provided. Councillors will receive the information at next Monday’s city council meeting and a decision will take place then.
The move to leasing schemes - long term, five year, and with private landlords - is part of current government policy. HELM will maintain, insure, and manage the nine properties - located at Leargan, Reilean, Boireann Beag, and Woodview - which will house people currently on the council’s housing waiting list, for a period of five years.
However councillors feel the issue of tenants’ rights under such five year leasing schemes has not been fully worked out and they are concerned that it will place tenants in a very vulnerable position.
Independent councillor Catherine Connolly said any tenant “forced to take such a private house” will have “no security of tenure” in contrast to tenants for life in social housing.
“These tenants will not be entitled to the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights,” she said. “I will not be supporting these short and long term rental schemes next Monday night.”
Fine Gael councillor Brian Walsh is concerned about what will happen to tenants once the five year lease is up.
“What happens at the end of five years?” he asked. “By that time the people are settled in, the children are going to school locally, and they have put down roots in the community. Will they then have to be uprooted?”
Cllr Walsh believes the council has two options in such circumstances - either find accommodation for the tenants in the same area or offer the housing association another five year term.
Cllr Connolly will be calling on councillors to support her call that City Hall engage in a public housing construction programme on council lands.
“It will provide much neeedd housing and employment in the city,” she said, “and tax/vat returns to the Government. The council should look at more creative ways of using residential zoned land such as constructing social houses by housing co-operatives, and purchasing additional housing as the prices drop.”