6,000 tenants at risk as new planning regulations introduced

Focus Ireland has warned that new regulations on private rented accommodation may increase the risk of homelessness for tenants in bedsits.

The new regulations, which came into force just over a week ago, mean that traditional bedsits where tenants share amenities, such as bathrooms, will no longer be legally available to rent.

Focus Ireland revealed that there were 6,000 tenants living in such accommodation in Ireland, including a number on the South Circular Road. With many of these tenants either being unemployed or having some type of disability, the charity has raised concerns over their ability to afford higher rent than the bedsits offer.

Although they have expressed certain concerns over the new regulations, Focus Ireland supports the aims of the regulations, as they are designed to vastly improve living standards for those most vulnerable in the rental market.

However, it is the lack of clarity on how the new regulations will impact on both existing tenants and the supply of accommodation at cheap rates that has caused the charity to express its concerns.

From studying the last census the charity has discovered that the very low incomes received by people currently living in bedsits mean that they will have a high risk of homelessness. This is unless steps are taken to protect them.

Also, there is a concern that landlords of such properties may not be able or willing to upgrade their properties to meet the new standards. They may instead seek to leave the market, which would leave any sitting tenants in their properties in limbo.

In order to protect these tenants Focus Ireland has made a number of its own recommendations to the Government.

These include an information campaign where Local Authorities would make tenants affected by the new regulations aware of them and what their next step is. Also the charity suggests that the Government guarantees that no tenants would be evicted on grounds of the new regulations, without first having alternative accommodation in place.

In terms of alternative accommodation, such tenants should also be fast tracked for a Housing Needs Assessment and also given priority to receive the Rent Supplement.

Although the new regulations only came into effect a week ago they have been in the pipeline since 2008. However, it is believed that many landlords in that time have not made the necessary alterations to their properties.

As a result, Focus Ireland has raised its concerns over the increasing shortage of properties in the lower end of the market.

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