FINE Gael Cork South Central Deputy, Jerry Buttimer, has said that rent allowance should be reduced or withdrawn where anti-social behaviour occurs. Deputy Buttimer raised the issue of anti-social behaviour in rented properties with the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, in the Dáil during topical debates.
“Where anti-social behaviour occurs in circumstances where the State is paying rent allowance, the most effective form of enforcement would be to either reduce or withdraw that allowance.
“In some parts of Bishopstown and Douglas in Cork there are many rented properties which are located in quiet and, in many cases, mature residential areas. In these places there is often persistent anti-social behaviour and excessive noise. There is also often evidence of broken windows and rubbish dumped on neighbouring properties.
“We must take action in respect of landlords and tenants who are only interested in obtaining access to rent allowance, who do not care about the state of the properties and who believe the feelings of those who own neighbouring properties to be irrelevant.
“In one recent case before the Private Residential Tenancies Board there was only a small fine for the landlord; no penalty was imposed on the tenant even though the adjudicator said that behaviour in the property ‘on numerous occasions constituted anti-social behaviour’. The adjudicator also said that residents had been ‘directly and adversely affected such that their quality of life, safety and security in their own homes were harmed and inconvenienced’. In cases such as this we need to see stronger action.
“I welcome that the Minister confirmed that the Government is taking two specific avenues to deal with this issue. The first is to transfer long-term rent supplement to local authorities, who will have the powers to deal with tenants who are misbehaving and causing significant distress to people living nearby. There is also a commitment to introduce arrangements whereby people on rent supplement would be subject to the same conditions as people who are direct tenants of local authorities. This would allow local authorities to refuse, suspend or terminate payment of a rent supplement to people in private rented accommodation who engage in anti-social behaviour.
“These reforms are required to reduce the instances of anti-social behaviour in rented properties. When implemented, these changes should cause landlords and tenants to consider local residents and if they don’t the payments they are receiving could be reduced.”