herald

Monday 24 July 2017

€6k deposit wanted from tenants on social welfare

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA

Fresh concerns have been raised that landlords are discriminating against tenants on State schemes after a landlord asked for the equivalent of five months' rent up front.

A tenant, who is on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, was informed via email that the landlord letting a north Dublin property required almost €6,000 before they could move in.

The email stated that, for regular tenants, the landlord wanted a deposit worth two months' rent and an up-front payment of one month's rent to secure the apartment.

However, for a tenant in receipt of HAP, they wanted a deposit worth two months' rent and three months' rent in advance.

Sinn Fein councillor Noeleen Reilly, who was sent the email by a constituent, said the move amounted to "discrimination".

"How would anyone in receipt of HAP be able to pay that up front? It would be hard enough for someone working full-time. Landlords know they can't discriminate against HAP tenants anymore and this just looks like a new way to get around that," she said.

Landlords are barred from excluding tenants who receive State help with their rent. However, Stephen Large, of charity Threshold, said cases of "indirect discrimination" are becoming more common.

"We are seeing a lot of cases where people are not refusing HAP or rent supplement tenants outright but they are putting barriers in place such as additional deposits, a couple of months' rent or people looking for work references," he said.

Complaint

"All of these things are discriminatory and we advise anyone who has been affected to contact ourselves or make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under the current equality legislation."

Previously, properties often appeared in adverts with the caveat that rent allowance, rent supplement or HAP payments would not be accepted.

This was changed by Housing Minister Simon Coveney in January 2016, with a maximum fine of €15,000 payable by any landlord found to be in breach of the new rules.

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