€4.5m in rental ar­rears

Drogheda Independent - - NEWS - By ALI­SON COMYN

LOUTH County Coun­cil is owed al­most €4.5m in rent ar­rears by coun­cil ten­ants, with some not hav­ing paid rent in over a year.

In fig­ures re­leased in the lat­est hous­ing re­port, a to­tal of 1,560 ten­ants are in ar­rears, with the largest num­ber of 1,231 peo­ple ow­ing rents greater than three months old.

“This is a se­ri­ous hous­ing cri­sis and I’d like to know what we are do­ing to ad­dress this,” asked Cllr Richie Cul­hane at the Oc­to­ber meet­ing of lo­cal Louth County coun­cil­lors.

“1,231 peo­ple are in ar­rears for over three months, and €4m is a huge amount of money. Couldn’t we be us­ing that money to build more houses?”

In the ab­sence of CEO Joan Martin, se­nior ex­ec­u­tive Wil­lie Walsh agreed the sums are high.

“Some ten­ants have not paid in over a year, and the amounts are sig­nif­i­cant,” he said.

“But we’ve ex­ceeded the le­gal bud­get for this year.”

Fol­low­ing other queries on the method of col­lec­tion or warn­ings in the case of ar­rears, the mem­bers were told of the fol­low­ing pro­ceed­ings; Af­ter four weeks ar­rears, a first warn­ing is is­sued, a fur­ther two weeks later, a sec­ond warn­ing is is­sued, and a fort­night af­ter that, le­gal no­tice is is­sued.

“With every warn­ing, an in­vi­ta­tion to en­gage with the coun­cil as soon as pos­si­ble is ex­tended,” the mem­bers were told. “We have evicted three peo­ple who can pay but won’t, but we en­cour­age peo­ple to pay and of­fer sup­port ad­vice, but if they don’t pay, we will seek the ar­rears.!

The num­ber of peo­ple on the hous­ing list in Drogheda is con­tin­u­ing to rise, with 854 wait­ing to be housed in Au­gust, up from 806 the month be­fore. 51 houses were al­lo­cated as of Au­gust 31st, with five peo­ple re­fus­ing hous­ing for rea­sons un­spec­i­fied. Louth County Coun­cil cur­rently man­ages 1,480 hous­ing stock, with four of those be­ing com­mu­nity houses. 200 so­cial houses are ear­marked for com­ple­tion by the end of 2021.

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