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File photo of housing in Dublin Alamy

Over 900 households avoid homelessness through Threshold, but evictions still 'persistent' issue

Landlords not accepting the housing assistance payment (HAP) and opting to let short-term rather than long-term contribute to the crisis.

MORE THAN 900 households were supported by the national charity that seeks to prevent homelessness so far this year.

Still, eviction notices being served on individuals and families is a “persistent” issue and nearly 10,000 families were in need of support.

Threshold prevented an estimated 900 households from entering homelessness, including 1,235 adults and 983 children, in the first quarter of this year, according to the charity’s latest impact report.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland the charity’s CEO John-Mark McCafferty that landlords not accepting the housing assistance payment (HAP), not allowing tenants to remain in situ and opting to let short-term rather than long-term are all contributing to the homelessness crisis.

“We can help many people, but some people whose landlord is selling, that tenancy will come to an end, unless of course the tenant can avail of the tenant in situ scheme where the landlord sells to the local authorities and approved housing body,” he said.

“That’s a really helpful innovation, but it only helps and a number of circumstances.”

Threshold also assists those in arrears with negotiating and arranging a payment plan with their landlord.

Those in arrears can apply for supports such as the State’s additional needs payment.

A lack of properties accepting HAP “has always been an issue”, says McCafferty, and Threshold often represents tenants at the Workplace Relations Commission, “where you go if you believe you’ve been discriminated against in relation to the HAP”.

Another concern is the presence of short-term lets, which McCafferty says there is “very weak” regulation of.

They are making a big negative impact on housing supply.

“People who are letting a short let, an entire property in the red pressure zone, they should be looking for planning permission, which will generally not be granted. But the people are generally not seeking that planning permission.

“They’re generally going ahead and they’re letting that property so that is taken off short let is taking a potential long-term rental out of supply and we need stronger legislation and enforcement.”

The charity has provided case studies of situations renters find themselves in and the supports that were available to them through Threshold and the State.

Mia, single mother 

“Mia is a single mother and had made a cosy home for her and her baby, but she unfortunately fell into rent arrears. Mia contacted Threshold as she was very worried about losing her home. The stress about potentially being evicted was beginning to impact her mental health and she needed support.

“Mia was receiving HAP and fell behind on her payments to her landlord and the local authority. Her rent arrears became unsustainable, and she was struggling to pay. The letting company then gave her a rent arrears warning letter, meaning she only had 28 days to pay off all the arrears or face eviction.

“Following contact with Threshold, Mia received support from an advisor who liaised with the letting company and arranged a payment plan that could work for everyone. The Threshold advisor also assisted Mia in applying for an Additional Needs Payment.

“With this support, Mia has been able to pay off her rent arrears, keeping her and her baby in their home.”

Threshold says stories like these highlight the importance of asking for help when you are struggling.

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