A legal showdown between Mayo County Council and a voluntary housing body is developing, it was revealed this week.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Richard Finn, had a notice of motion down for debate at Monday's monthly meeting of Mayo County Council looking for an update on any progress made in relation to five tenancies in Mayfield Lake sheltered housing estate in Claremorris.
Outlining the history of the issue, Cllr Finn told the meeting of the council that four years ago to the day (March 5, 2014 ), tenancies were offered for five houses in the development, but to this day none of those who were offered a tenancy has been able to move in due to a dispute between Mayo County Council and the housing agency Clár ICH Voluntary Housing Association over rental payment levels.
He told the meeting that Mayo County Council had offered to pay the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS ) level of rent for the properties and even offered, subject to an arbitration process, to pay back the difference in rent if such a process deemed that the council should pay more.
Cllr Finn added: "In this day and age, where there is a housing crisis, I cannot see how there were five houses left unoccupied for four years."
There was support from a number of councillors for Cllr Finn's calls for "the housing agency, subject to arbitration, to allow the people into those houses."
Updating the members on the situation from the council management side of things, Mayo County Council chief executive Peter Hynes said that legal proceedings looked to be inevitable in this situation - but it was the last thing he wanted: "The sentiment of the council is very clear and is acknowledged, and the support to get it sorted is clear.
"I will not comment on the rights and wrongs of the case, because that will probably and unfortunately be thrashed out in a court scenario, and those who know me know that legal action is the very last step we wish to take to resolve any situation.
"My door is always open if there is any desire or reasonable willingness to try and engage in any discussion to resolve this.
"The only thing I want to say is we did engage in a mediation process and that was not successful unfortunately, so unless there is a discussion this legal action looks inevitable."