Eight applicants for local authority housing in the Claremorris area turned down offers from Mayo County Council in recent times it was revealed this week. At the monthly meeting of the Claremorris Municipal District, the new council head of the district Pardaig Flanagan was giving the members a Directors Report on the council's work in the area.
Independent councillor Richard Finn raised the issue asking: "Just a question on the report, it says the number of [housing] offers refused is eight, what is the reason for that? What is the reason for eight refusals? Is it unsuitability of the houses?"
In a lengthy response, Mr Flanagan outlined that it was not an unusual occurance and that in some areas half of the offers made are refused by applicants. Responding to Cllr Finn's question, Mr Flanagan said: "No, any house that we would offer for re-letting would be fully suitable for letting. Applicants have up to two offers of housing that they can refuse. They put forward various reasons such as the location, or that their child is school elsewhere, or they are in a different part of town. But to be honest with you, up to 50 per cent of housing offers in certain parts of the county would refused. That would be a common trend around the country. It varies from town to town, but isn't uncommon that housing offers would be refused by housing applicants."
Arbitrators decision on rent stand off expected soon
At the same meeting, Cllr Finn also raised the issue of a stand-off between the local authority and the housing assocation which controls the Mayfield Lake Devlopment in Claremorris. Mr Flanagan told the meeting that a decision from an independent arbitrator was expected soon.
“The matter has been referred to an independent arbitrator and he has indicated he will be making his decision in two to three weeks,” Mr Flanagan said. “It was referred to arbitration because the council couldn’t come to an agreement with the voluntary body involved in relation to the proper levels of rents to be charged.”
Cllr Finn told the meeting: “For two years we’ve been held to ransom for long enough,in relation to a rent stand-off, and essentially what it is. We have done everything in our power to come to an arrangement with these people.
“These voluntary housing organisations have been given a free hand to take in who they like, when they like, and then they have refused to give people who have been allocated houses by this council their house. There is something seriously wrong when it comes down to this and the only way we can tackle these guys, if that’s the attuide of these guys, is that we take up every single house that we are entitled to take up in this county in these voluntary housing projects.”
He went on to say: “Mayo County Council have offered to get the voluntary housing organisation to let the tenant in at a rent that is appropriate and if the independent arbitrator came along and said what we were paying wasn’t enough, they agreed to reimburse them with the extra money. This wasn’t accepted either, so we’re left here with a situation that we have a national housing crisis and these people were coming from RAS scheme houses and those would have been freed up too. I can’t see how we offered to make retrospective payments if it was deemed necessary they wouldn’t accept it. Why are they housing organisations at all?”