Thursday, 27th July ‘17
Speech by Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development Seán Kyne TD
I’m very pleased to be here today to launch this first anniversary report of Threshold’s Galway Tenancy Protection Service. I would like to thank Threshold for inviting me and the occasion gave me the opportunity to become more familiar with the organisation’s work and in particular the new service. I was here last year at its launch with Minister Simon Coveney, your Chairperson, Aideen Hayden and Diarmaid your Manager and I’m glad to be back today to recognise a very active and successful first year.
The report, I have to say, makes compelling reading and I’d like to compliment those who compiled it, as it gives a real insight into the pressures experienced in the rental market especially through the case studies illustrated.
- In the first year the service provided supports to 534 households at risk of homelessness, helping over 1000 people.
- It provides a valuable service at a time of severe pressure in areas of housing and homelessness.
- Working with the Department of Social Protection and the four Local Authorities, Galway City, Galway County, Roscommon and Mayo, the tenancy protection service gives preventative advice and an advocacy service for households in the private rental sector in the area.
- The TPS tries to prevent tenancy breakdown and the consequential risk of homelessness.
- I’m glad to be able to say that under the Scheme to Support National Organisations – responsibility for which will be coming to our new Department for Rural and Community Development, Threshold has received a three-year allocation of over a Quarter of a Million euro to support its work.
Having a roof over your head is something the vast majority of people always took for granted.
The concept of homelessness was for somebody else – for most of us it was unimaginable. Unfortunately for an increasing number of citizens the concept is not only real it’s actually happened.
Even the risk of losing your home is hugely traumatic. The worry about the effects on children, the vulnerability, the damage to self-esteem and confidence all on top of the day to day challenges life without a home brings, doesn’t bear thinking about.
For those One Thousand people Thresholds TPS has prevented such an ordeal, and for that we must thank and congratulate their hard-working staff and management.
Statistics from the 1940s, at the end of the Second World War, show that 50% of Irish households were in rented accommodation. Since then home ownership increased gradually but in recent years the proportion of rented accommodation has again increased and shows little sign of changing.
This brings its own challenges. We must have some certainty of tenure in order to give security to tenants; we must have rent levels which both make it worthwhile for landlords to stay in the business and protects tenants from dramatic rent hikes. It is in everyone’s interest to have a properly functioning, mature rental sector.
The introduction of a Rent Pressure Zone in Galway earlier this year has had, according to your report, a calming effect on the rate of rent increases.
I had a number of discussions with Minister Coveney in the run up to the decision to include Galway City in the scheme. The 4% limit on rent increases has given breathing-space to hard pressed tenants, but ironically, some of the more conscientious landlords who kept their rent levels low for long term tenants are now looking at rents 50% higher in similar properties. This is inevitably going to end in a difficult situation for both the landlord and tenant.
The Government has committed huge resources towards the housing crisis. It has challenged the Local Authorities to provide both social housing and the facilitation for an expansion in the provision of private housing. The streamlining of the planning process for housing is already having an effect on the timescales for delivery so we must keep the pressure on to deliver homes for our citizens.
The approval of 23 Social houses this week for Galway City is a small but significant step on that road and plans for Ardaun, to the East of the City, are well on the way and will hopefully provide approximately 2,000 houses in a new community there.
Getting back to today’s report, housing advice and advocacy must be part of the sector into the future. The success of the GALWAY TENANCY PROTECTION SERVICE in just its first year shows that. The service must be integral, accepted, respected and resourced.
Perhaps in the years to come the need for the service will diminish. But the need will always be there at some level.
I congratulate all involved on such a positive and active first year and I thank you for your efforts on behalf of the people of the West.