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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 8 August, 2020

Tenants "caught in crossfire" between landlords in arrears, and banks

Tenants have to pay rent to the receiver – but the receiver doesn’t have to carry out repairs or maintain standards.

Image: House repairs via Shutterstock

HUNDREDS OF FAMILIES are finding that when their rented homes go into receivership, the receivers are not carrying out repairs or making sure the property is in good condition.

Threshold, the national housing charity, said that it is hearing from hundreds of these tenants due to a lack of regulation.

It welcomed the publication today of a report on the mortgage arrears crisis and measures to resolve it.

Negative impact

Bob Jordan, Chief Executive of Threshold, said the report recognises the negative impact the mortgage arrears crisis has had on tenants in the private rented sector, as well as on property-owners.

“Many people bought properties to let during the boom years, and now have tenants living in those properties,” he commented.

If the mortgage on such a property goes into arrears, the tenants are left in a precarious position and, quite often, get caught in the crossfire between landlords and banks when properties go into receivership or are repossessed.

He said that it is estimated there are currently 4,000 receiverships in place on buy-to-let properties in Ireland, “but – to date – little has been done to protect the tenants who live in these properties”.

At present, tenants are legally obliged to pay their rent to the receiver once a receivership occurs.

“However, the receiver often fails to take on the responsibilities of the landlord,” said Jordan.

He said that lack of regulation and clear legislation in this area has led to a situation where a receiver can be getting rent, but refusing to carry out repairs to a property or to maintain minimum standards.

Last year alone, Threshold dealt with queries from over 400 families who found themselves in this situation; this year, we have had even higher numbers of queries arising from the arrears crisis in the buy-to-let sector.

Jordan said Threshold welcome the report’s recommendation that, when receivers are appointed to properties, they should treat tenants with due respect and fully uphold the letter and spirit of the Residential Tenancies Act.

Rising rents

They also welcome the report’s acknowledgement that rising rents have contributed to an increase in homelessness and the selling or repossession of a property due to the landlord’s mortgage difficulties.

We would echo the Committee’s recommendation that tenants must not have leases ended, their rent increased or any other detrimental changes imposed when a receiver takes over a property.

Senator Aideen Hayden, Chair of Threshold and a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee said Threshold, is calling on the Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan, to bring forward an amendment to the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (no. 2) Bill to give effect to the recommendations made by the Joint Oireachtas Committee in this report.

“In particular, legislation must be introduced to compel receivers to take on the duties of landlords once a private rented property goes into receivership,” she said.

Read: We could be repaying our mortgages into retirement – the verdict on the arrears crisis>

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