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Council backs NCT-style certification for landlords

CLARE County Council has urged the State to introduce an NCT-type certification for landlords who are renting houses to tentants.

At Monday’s meeting Councillor Johnny Flynn proposed that such certification be brought in, noting that in Clare there are around 1,700 houses rented to tenants who receive State support, meaning the taxpayer is putting €10-15 million into the rental market.

He said that while most landlords keep their properties to a good standard, there are those who don’t.

The Ennis representative said that he knew of one instance where a person left a tenant without any heating for 13 months, a situation he described as “dreadful”.

He added that a lot of vulnerable people are in households that are damp and poorly ventilated.

The motion was seconded by Councillor Donna McGettigan, who said she was doing so with reservations.

She said people in the rental market would be concerned that if works are done landlords could use it as an excuse to increase rent, or to create a situation where they would be asked to leave the property.

Councillor Gerry Flynn also opposed it, saying it could cause difficulties for tenants.

He also said there may be some misunderstanding about how the Housing Assistance Payment works.

“The HAP arrangement, a lot of people wouldn’t realise, is a contract between the landlord and the tenant. The Council have no hand, act or part in it. The Council intervene to set up the HAP arrangement, once an agreement is in place.”

He said that reforming HAP so the Council monitors the type of properties rented would be much preferable.

Eventually the motion was passed by the meeting, albeit with some dissent.

Also at Monday’s meeting Councillor Johnny Flynn was one of several members who proposed that the State ringfence 20% of carbon taxes for the retrofitting of the private rented sector of housing stock.

They proposed that the cost of upgrade works minus any grant received be tax deductible against rental income.

He said that this could be an important measure in preventing fuel poverty, which he said contributes to 2,800 deaths per year in Ireland.

Councillor Cillian Murphy backed the proposal, saying “it’s the sort of incentivisation that works”.

He added that while there may be reservations about providing support to landlords, the most important thing is that fuel poverty is avoided.

Councillor Joe Garrihy also supported the motion, saying that while landlords are often demonised, many of them are paying substantial sums of tax and there is an issue with many of them opting to exit the market, exacerbating housing issues.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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