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Tipp Council house rent review causing anguish for families

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Tipp Council house rent review causing anguish for families thumbnailSome of the speakers and organisers of last week's public meeting in Roscrea. MT37710PJW

ANGRY tenants of social houses in Roscrea who are faced with steep hikes in their rents voiced their concerns at a well attended public meeting last week.
The meeting was the second in Roscrea forming part of a campaign across the North of the county to suspend the unexpected rise in Council rents experienced by tenants in the last six months.
The increase in rent comes after the North and South County Councils were amalgamated and the rent costs harmonised county-wide resulting in a very sudden jump in costs for the 6,100 households which will experience an increase.
Families attending the meeting told this newspaper that the rise in costs has forced them to near breaking point, with some resorting to illegal moneylenders to keep their rent from slipping into arrears.
Several families said that back to school costs, coupled with rent increases are causing extreme financial stress and affecting their mental health; while families who have occupied the same Council house for generations feel ashamed to be unable to cope with the increases which in many cases equate to the cost of a mortgage.
The meeting heard that in Nenagh a Food Bank programme for families experiencing financial difficulties has been established and 110 families have registered for its support, with many stating that Council rent increases have forced their family into seeking assistance to provide food.
The meeting, which was attended by two Tipperary TD's, Jackie Cahill (FF) and Seamus Healy (Ind), heard that in some cases the rent increase has been stopped from people's Carer Allowance and that people on Family Income Support have been some of those hardest hit.
The public meeting was arranged by Roscrea community activist Mike Edwards and Nenagh based Councillor, Seamie Morris (Ind), who has led the charge on the rent review campaign and who personally invited all of the Tipperary TD's and public representatives to Roscrea to attend the meeting.
40 Councillors and five members of the Dail represent the people of Tipperary however, only four Councillors and the two aforementioned TD's were in attendance at the meeting in the Abbey Hall last Thursday night.
The absence of the majority of the representatives of the people was highlighted by Councillors Michael Smith (FF), Sean Ryan (Ind), Eddie Moran (Ind Lowry Team) and Cllr Morris, who assured the meeting they intended to take up the issue of rent review at the monthly County Council meeting held in Clonmel on Monday last.
Mike Edwards applauded the public representatives whom he said put their political differences aside and united on this issue, adding that the demand for assistance to provide food for families has also increased steeply in Roscrea in the last three months.
It's putting untold pressure on families and people are in fear of their lives over it, Cllr Seamie Morris said, who added that his recent request for some financial support for legal advice to examine the legalities of the County Manager's decision have been answered by Independent Tipperary Deputy, Seamus Healy.
The need for legal advice stems from Cllr Morris' conviction that the Council CEO, Joe McGrath's decision to introduce the rent review and later defer it temporarily nullified his order sanctioning the rent increase.
The technicality may be enough to overturn the CEO's managerial order for the increases and Cllr Morris and Deputy Healy are willing to invest in legal advice to thoroughly examine if a technical argument could suspend the rent increases until the national rent review process.
This will be a significant increase in income for the Council and will amount to anything between 2-million and 7-million annually but that's money taken out of the local economy and we all know that people on social welfare spend almost all their money in the local economy, Deputy Healy told the meeting, arguing that the knock-on effect will eventually affect shops and businesses in Roscrea.
The end of this if it's lets go ahead is that all the power will be taken away from the Councillors who you elect and all the decisions will be made by Executives who you did not elect, Deputy Healy said, arguing that local democracy itself is under threat in Tipperary.
Roscrea based Councillor Michael Smith, told the meeting that he knows several families in the locality who are in a dire situation and that rent increase on their Council homes have pushed them to breaking point.
There are 40 Councillors in Tipperary and there are only four here tonight but they will all be there at the Council meeting on Monday when we raise this directly with Joe McGrath. All the TD's Councillors need to step up to the mark we won't accept it and our TD's need to get up and fight for the people, Cllr Smith said.
Speaking to the Tribune following Monday's meeting of Tipperary County Council, Cllr Seamie Morris told the Tribune they small band of Councillors fighting the rent review saw little results when they raised the issue.
Only seven Councillors spoke on the issue, with the remaining 33 either drifting from the Chamber while the issue was being discussed, or choosing to stay silent while it was discussed, Cllr Morris said.
The matter was raised under the Manager's Report by Cllr Morris at approximately 3pm in the afternoon, after the numbers of members of the public attending the Chamber to hear the issue discussed had waned considerably.
We didn't really get anywhere and we couldn't even get them to admit they deferred it. The Council Executive showed no empathy whatsoever with the people seriously affected by this and they claimed that only 25 people have presented to them for assistance as hardship cases, Cllr Morris said.
When the Council amalgamated they lost 20-million a year and now Joe McGrath is searching down the back of everyone's couch trying to make up the difference. If they get away with they won't stop
The CEO might think he has this put to bed now but I can assure you he hasn't. This issue isn't going away because people simply can't afford to pay it, Cllr. Morris told this newspaper.

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