New laws could create more homelessness, charity warns

A homelessness charity has warned more people could end up on the streets as a result of new laws for landlords.

Focus Ireland said Government regulations that prohibit the renting of sub-standard bed-sits put people on low incomes at risk.

Director of advocacy Mike Allen said a third of tenants living in a traditional bed-sit, often with a shared bathroom and no kitchen facilities, are unemployed.

“Many landlords will not be able to afford to upgrade their properties in order to meet the new standards so they will look to get out of the market,” Mr Allen said.

“If they do not upgrade this means any sitting tenants in their properties will have to leave this accommodation.”

He said while Focus Ireland supported the Government’s aims to improve living standards, there was a concern that a number of vulnerable tenants would be unable to find alternative affordable accommodation.

“We know through our work that people living in bed-sits are usually on very low incomes, so we would be very concerned that tenants could be at serious risk of becoming homeless as regulations are implemented unless steps are taken to protect them,” Mr Allen added.

Figures from the 2011 Census revealed more than 6,000 people were living in 4,475 privately-rented bed-sits – three-quarters of which were in Dublin.

It showed that more than 3,000 of those comprise only one room while only 9% of bed-sits had no central heating.

One in five of those tenants were living with a disability while 10% were unable to work as a result. The figures also showed that 5% of bed-sit tenants were retired.

Focus Ireland has urged local authorities to support people who might be affected by the new regulations, which came into force on Friday.

It said councils must make a concerted effort to inform tenants living in substandard bed-sits of the new measures and provide support in the event their landlords decide to pull out of the rental market.

Local authorities should launch an information campaign directed at people living in non-compliant bed-sits, the charity said.

It suggested a leaflet drop in areas with a high concentration of this type of accommodation.

The new Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations were first signalled in 2008, meaning landlords have had around four years to have made changes to their properties to ensure they comply.

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