Galway’s two local authorities and the Government “must do more to effectively oversee the private rental market”, that is according to Labour TD for Galway West, Derek Nolan, who is supporting Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan’s plans to introduce a tenant deposit protection scheme.
Deputy Nolan made the comments yesterday following the release of a Threshold report which found tenants in Galway and the western region still face significant challenges. Speaking about the housing report, Deputy Nolan said: “According to Threshold, the standards in the private rental markets are slipping and tenants are being forced to accept below par accommodation.
“This is the result of a number of things – a shortage of accommodation, rising rents and the issue of deposit retention due to financial difficulties faced by many landlords.”
The Threshold report found that in the Galway and the Western region the demand for advice and advocacy services remained high during 2012, with deposit retention and repair and maintenance the most common queries. There was also an increase in the number of people looking for support in finding somewhere to live. The report revealed that during 2012 numerous tenants approached Threshold’s Galway office - located at 3 Victoria Place, Merchant’s Road - for advice and support in getting their deposits back. Deposit retention cases represented almost a third of the advocacy work carried out by the office last year.
Regarding this problem Threshold stated: “For many tenants the illegal retention of a deposit can mean the different between being able to find follow-on accommodation or risking becoming homeless. The work of the housing officers in the Galway office helped ensure that this risk was minimised, but the need for the introduction of a deposit protection scheme has never been greater.”
According to the report the “most notable challenge faced by renters in Galway in 2012 was the shortage of properties to rent that fall under the maximum rent limits for Rent Supplement as set by the Department of Social Protection”. It further stated: “Tenants are facing real difficulties in finding appropriate properties to rent, a problem that is particularly stark for single people seeking a one bed apartment. The shortage of properties is without doubt putting people at risk of homelessness.”
Deputy Nolan urged local authorities to do more adding that they are “obliged to inspect rented accommodation to ensure standards are met” but that the Government also has a major role to play by making the necessary resources available. He said: “Housing in Galway, like the rest of the country, remains a challenging issue and it is vital that we work together to identify solutions for all aspects of the housing sector.”
Regarding Minister O’Sullivan’s annoucement yesterday on her committment to introducing a tenant deposit protection scheme, Deputy Nolan described it as “an important first step” and that he looks forward to working with the minister to make sure local authorities in Galway get the necessary support to ensure that higher standards are met in the private rental market.