€4.5m in rental arrears
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.