14 March 2002
Cork Council Rent System Fundamentally Unjust
Sinn Fein's candidate for Cork North Central, Cllr Jonathan O Brien, condemned the Cork City Council Management's refusal to scrap the differential rent scheme calling it unjust, unfair and oppressive. The Cork City Council rent scheme discriminates particularly against tenants with wage earning children and contributes to the ever widening housing crisis.
Speaking after a special meeting of Cork City Council, Jonathan O Brien said: "While I welcome the City Managers assurance that he will revisit the issue of pensioners and social welfare recipients, the differential rent scheme is fundamentally unjust and should be scrapped
The rent scheme purports to be fair because it is assessed on income. But the rent is assessed on what the council terms the income of the principal earner in the house not on the tenant's income. Therefore if a child of the tenant earns more than the tenant that is what the rent is assessed on. But that child may not be paying anything like that to his or her parent and thus the parent is penalised for his or her child's earnings. Some rents have risen by as much as 50%.
This system perpetuates a vicious cycle. The young person who is the principal earner is being penalised. More and more young people remain with their parents because of the difficulty in finding housing at an affordable house. Those years spent in their parents houses while earning a wage is traditionally used to save up to get on the housing ladder. Cork City Council now levies a rent on their wages and thus makes it even more difficult for them to get a house.
It is expected that the housing waiting list in the city will soon top 4000. This represents a serious situation with more and more people living in unsuitable and overcrowded conditions.
When the establishment parties voted for this rent scheme in November they introduced a scheme which is not only unjust to Council tenants but penalises the children of the Council's tenants who may be attempting to get on the housing ladder. You can be sure they would not accept a scheme whereby the principal earner in the house would be levied to pay their mortgages."
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