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Threshold blasts greedy landlords for upping rents

Enda Cunningham

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Greedy landlords in Galway City have forced low-income families out of their homes by upping rents, according to housing charity Threshold.

In its annual report for 2013, the charity said that landlords had been profiteering from the chronic shortage of rented accommodation in the city.

“One of the most notable developments in the private rented sector in 2013 was the shortage of rented accommodation and significant increases in rent levels.

“Threshold’s Galway office supported tenants experiencing real difficulty in securing a place to rent. It has been difficult to secure accommodation under the rent supplement scheme for some time, but the shortage in accommodation put even greater pressure on Threshold’s clients.

“Some landlords sought to profit from the shortage of accommodation by increasing rents to unaffordable levels for low-income families,” the report reads.

According to the charity, the single biggest issue for tenants who were in contact was over standards and repairs problems.

“Despite the existence of minimum standard regulations for private rented accommodation, many tenants found it difficult to get landlords to carry out repairs.

“Local authorities did not always respond to requests for enforcement. Ineffective heating systems, dampness and failure to repair kitchen equipment were some of the most common problems reported.

“Unfortunately the dream of owning a home turned sour for tens of thousands of people who bought their homes at the height of the property boom. Today, there are over 100,000 households in Ireland in mortgage arrears and an increasing number are facing the trauma of having their home repossessed.

“Since the property crash, many families who would otherwise have bought their own homes or would have been allocated a local authority home are now living in the rented sector,” Threshold said.

Properties being taken over by receivers also prompted difficulties for tenants.

“The Galway office witnessed an increase in the number of tenants experiencing difficulties where a receiver had been appointed to their homes.

“The appointment of a receiver can give rise to great uncertainty for tenants as the law is currently unclear in this area. Threshold worked with tenants to help secure their tenancies and uphold their rights under housing law,” the report reads.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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