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Separated couples forced to stay under the same roof


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Separated couples forced to stay under the same roof Separated couples forced to stay under the same roof

Separated couples are being forced to remain living under the one roof as a result of Galway’s dire housing shortage.

That’s according to Councillor Níall McNelis, who warned that the housing crisis was going from bad to worse and those receiving notices to quit this month were facing into a nightmare before Christmas.

The Labour councillor said that across the city and county, there was little to no rental accommodation available – and what was up for lease was in many cases “totally unaffordable”.

“The Government’s decision to lift the eviction ban earlier this year is really starting to bear rotten fruit now. People who are in long-term leases that were handed their six-month notices to quit in recent weeks will be facing homelessness at Christmas – that’s the reality of that decision.

“And nothing is happening to improve the situation,” said Cllr McNelis.

The Government’s Tenant in Situ Scheme, whereby local authorities are encouraged to purchase properties from landlords evicting tenants in order to sell, was failing, he said, particularly in the city where the Council couldn’t match what was being offered on the private market.

“Tenants are going to the City Council and the local authority is making offers, but my understanding is that because the market is so heated, the prices on the private market are unbeatable for the Council.

“The situation is so bad that I know of cases where couples who have separated, acrimoniously or not, are being forced to stay together under the one roof because they can’t afford to live apart,” said Cllr McNelis.

The extortionate rental prices being offered were unaffordable to anybody on a normal wage, he said, and the result was people living in these “very sad situations”.

“The problem we have here is we have two-bed apartments going on the market for €1,700 a month. What hope had any worker got of affording that and affording to live at the same time,” he said .

“I’m constantly hearing horror stories. A lot of the new Irish are being taken advantage of, too.

“Many are working in low paid jobs and paying out every cent they earn in rent. It’s a sad situation when we’re doing in Ireland what was done to the Irish abroad in the sixties, seventies and eighties who were working hard to earn money that just barely covered their rent,” continued Cllr McNelis.

Tenants who received a notice to quit should present to their local authority without delay, he said, so that the Council is aware of their situation and can look into the Tenant in Situ Scheme.

“That scheme takes time to go through and if it doesn’t work out, that doesn’t leave much time to find alternative arrangements.

“In and around Galway City, we have such a shortage of housing. On top of that, we have students coming back in September and the disaster of short-term lets. And despite every promise to address these problems, the situation is going from bad to worse,” said Cllr McNelis.

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