Respond, the voluntary housing association have replied to criticisms from some Laois county councillors to their practice of requiring a deposit from tenants who are allocated a house by them.
The housing body robustly defended their deposit scheme stating that they finish out their houses to the highest standards including floor coverings and fitted wardrobes to a value of up to €5k.
The issue arose last month when highlighted by Cllr Willie Aird, who said it was the first he heard of it and felt it was an unfair burden on those awarded a house off the housing waiting list. In many instances he maintained that those seeking social housing were living week-to-week and were not in a position to save up such a deposit.
Cllr Aird was irate on the issue and said he hoped no one had to forfeit a house they were offered simply because they did not have the money to make the down payment of a deposit.
The vast majority of new houses being provided by the local authority to individuals and families on the Council housing list are being constructed, managed and owned by voluntary and approved housing bodies such as Respond, rather than direct builds by the Council itself as was the custom in the past.
However, Respond in their response to the Council make it very clear and justify their policy of charging a deposit. While the previous meeting of the Council had heard that deposits of up to €700 had been mentioned Respond state they the deposits they seek ‘are low’ ranging from €150 to €520.
They also explain that Respond hands over a house to a new tenant they come fitted out to a very high standard.
“To be responsive to the needs of new tenants on commencement of a tenancy with Respond, it is our policy to provide floor coverings and fitted wardrobes in our homes, at a cost of €4,000 to €5,000 per home completely free of charge to the tenant. Other social landlords, including some local authorities do not provide these finishes so the tenant has to fund these items from their own resources,” states a written reply from Respond’s Tenant Relations Manager, Dolores Grady.
The reply goes on to note that such deposits are far lower than in the private sector and that theirs can be paid by instalments.
Furthermore the letter to councillors outlines: “Respond as an independent legal entity in its own right in pursuance off good practice in tenancy management, risk management and credit control has applied deposits since the organisations inception.
“It is a ‘security’ which grounds the letting conditions and the legal obligations and duties of the landlord and the tenant and in the long term is proven to be in the best interests of both parties”.
There was no further comment from councillors on the matter.