Government to Cut Rent Allowance but NAMA has 90,000 empty units

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1 billion euro in welfare cuts are being hinted at by the government for Decembers budget. One of the areas identified for potential savings is rent allowance. Rent allowance payments total 500 million per year, they are subsidies to help pay the rent of people who qualify due to low incomes, mostly people on the dole or other welfare payments. There are 95,000 recipients.  The money goes to private landlords and is paid on half the housing rental property in the state.

The private rental sector is thus kept afloat by this money, and the need for the housing by the states singular failure to provide adequate social housing of its own. It also artificially skews the rental market by insuring rents remain higher than they should.  After all with almost 15% vacancy of private accommodation in the state rents should be in freefall.

NAMA has 90,000 housing units on its books from which it receives zero return. The logical thing would seem to be to make as much of this housing available as social housing as possible and use the collected rents to help alleviate the debt burden. But the effect of such a policy would be to hammer the private rental sector and reduce landlords income. Instead what the government will do is simply cut rent allowance and expect that landlords will be forced by their tenants to reduce the rent. A clumsy and ineffective methodology as results will vary and many families will be forced to move or pay more of their rent out of already reduced welfare payments.

We have no rent controls, we have no squatting rights worthy of note, we have a country littered with empty housing gradually decaying and no laws to make them of social use , but plenty of laws to protect private property, landlords and banks.  A country with 15% vacancy should not have to pump millions of euro into private landlords bank accounts, that we do is a perfect reflection of how the state  is run in the interests of the rich not any social logic whatsoever.

WORDS: James McBarron