“NEIGHBOURS from hell” in private rented accommodation need to be dealt with and plans by the Government to tackle the issue do not go far enough, according to one local councillor.
At this week’s meeting of Ennis Town Council, Councillor Johnny Flynn urged the local authority to call for a “strengthening of bad neighbours’ and bad tenants’ sections of private tenancy legislation currently being drafted”.
He added, “Anti-social behaviour in estates, whether private or local authority, is destroying people’s lives and needs to be addressed with a range of effective legislation including terms of access or withdrawal of State benefits, low-cost alcohol and so on.”
He outlined that estate management schemes in local authority housing has been working “extremely well” but that within the private rented sector “we have an appalling situation”.
He stated that a bill set to come before the Dáil in relation to the Private Residential Tenancies Board is a “squandered opportunity” that will not tackle anti-social behaviour.
“People have paid hundreds of thousands for their houses, then bad neighbours move in and they have to write off their dreams,” he said.
Councillor Michael Guilfoyle added legislation to deal with this is needed “now more than ever”. “There are people coming in after working nights and they can’t sleep in their own beds because of anti-social behaviour. They have to go to their mother’s.”
He criticised the time it has taken the Government to act. “To wait two years for something to be put in place, yet the Government can bring in increases and water charges no problem,” he said. He stated many properties are being let by absentee landlords. However, he did not agree that low-cost alcohol be removed, stating that many people can’t afford to pay more. Councillor Tommy Brennan commented that he would support Councillor Flynn’s motion if the low-cost alcohol section was removed.
Councillor Mary Coote Ryan said it was “shocking that decent people can’t live in peace and rear their children”. She added, “When people have problems in local authority housing there is wonderful estate management that is able to rectify it. But in the private sector, it’s a different ball game. Absentee landlords have a lot to answer for.”
Councillor Mary Howard insisted the onus be put on those carrying out the anti-social behaviour and not just the landlords.
“The rest of us all abide by rules. We need to say enough is enough,” she said.
Councillor Frankie Neylon stated he would support the motion but he questioned if it would make a difference. “We have notices of motions going back 10 years and it has done nothing, another won’t make a difference. The people we elect when they go to Dublin, they seem to forget about the people who put them up there. I have met landlords as depressed as the councillors about this,” he said.
He added that national politicians have given councillors the “brush off”.
“We’re told shut our mouths or we will be done away with as a council. I’d prefer to be done away with than put up with what we have been putting up with. We are looking at problems we have no way of solving and if it continues, I fear for the people of this town. The fear of God is in them. This is happening and somebody has to stop it.”
Councillor Neylon suggested Taoiseach Enda Kenny be invited to the council to discuss the problem. Councillor Johnny Flynn in response to Councillor Neylon’s concerns about the motion stated, “Local democracy is hugely important and bringing this motion forward means ministers and TDs are obliged to take note.”
He agreed to remove the low-cost alcohol section of the motion.