herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Families refuse houses 'due to lack of a garden'

Minister Alan Kelly (Collins Dublin)
Minister Alan Kelly (Collins Dublin)

Families on the social housing waiting list are turning down offers of homes because the properties have no garden or parking facilities or because they are in areas of "high anti-social behaviour", according to the Department of the Environment.

Officials have compiled a list of reasons behind the high level of refusals after the Herald revealed that many families are turning down houses because they do not like the area.

In some parts of the country, such as Cork county, almost one in every two social houses were rejected over a 12-month period.

And in Dublin city, where the homeless crisis is most severe, close to 20pc of offers are turned down.

On the back of the alarming figures, all county and city managers were asked to provide detailed reasons as to why social homes are being rejected.

It is the first time a county-by-county breakdown of refusals has been produced, and it followed a request by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

A report, which is due to be sent to the Oireachtas Environment Committee, confirms that homes are rejected because they are in areas that already house people the applicants "do not feel compatible with".

Other reasons given for refusing offers of social houses include:

l No garden or parking facilities.

l Property not located in "area of choice".

l A high level of anti-social behaviour.

l Property unsuitable to the applicant's needs.

l Preference not for an upper floor apartment.

The report states that in some cases, old age pensioners turn down one-bed apartments or properties because they are deemed to be too small. A refusals is also logged when no response is received to an offer letter.

The reasons for refusals represent a "synopsis" of the situation nationwide.

It is also noted that there is "anecdotal" evidence that families who are on rent supplement turn down offers as they would prefer to remain in their rental accommodation.

Tighten

The department says that when an applicant refuses two offers from a local authority in a 12-month period, they will not be offered another home for a further 12 months.

The minister is seeking to tighten the rules surrounding refusals and has asked councils to move towards a "choice-based letting" regime.

"CBL (choice-based letting) is a method that can be used for the allocation of social housing which is designed to offer more choice and involvement for applicant households in selecting a new home, thereby reducing the likelihood of a refusal," the report states.

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