How Property Impoverishes the Socially Vulnerable


Dublin is suffering a housing crisis. Dublin has always had a housing crisis, and perhaps Dublin will always have a housing crisis. A search through the newspaper archives from a century ago reveals a preponderance of headlines and articles on the infamous “Dublin Housing Crisis.” Nothing much has changed with regard to the chronic shortage of social housing in this city for over a hundred years, and the consequence is that lower income families have had to seek housing in the private rental sector, and so have always found themselves at the mercy of landlords and an artificially high cost of rent in the less desirable parts of the city.


It is true that not all landlords are the demonised vicious and wealthy owners of bulging slum property portfolios of popular lore, but indeed many are, and the legality of possessing the rights to someone else’s home always ensures the insecurity of the poor. Shortage of supply has always kept the cost of renting in Dublin high, and the continual level of demand – taken together with the lack of proper regulation – has meant that there has always been plenty of sub-standard and unfit rental accommodation on the Dublin market. As the waiting lists for council housing increase, and as the cost of rent continues to rise due to rising demand for rented accommodation from those who have recently experienced the foreclosure of their mortgages, more families are having to accept the very worst quality of housing in the city.


Quasi-legal organisations such as the PRTB – the Private Residential Tenancies Board – and advocacy groups like Threshold do what they can for those suffering the living conditions in the poorest quality of housing and under the very worst landlords. Yet the law of Ireland, which is always on the side of the owner, renders it impossible to force landlords to comply even with the bear minimum of best practice.


The reality is that those most in need of the protection of society in Ireland find themselves paying more than they can really afford to live in houses and flats that are in such an advanced state of decay that they are making people – especially the young, the sick, and the old – ill. “Sick houses” have always been a feature of the cheapest housing in Dublin; houses and flats that are sodden with dampness and eaten by moths and mildew, and the government – not wishing to cost itself any expense – is loath to intervene. In fact, rather than tackle this growing problem and save lives, the government and the banks have ceaselessly conspired to assist the landlords in providing housing for the most disadvantaged people in the city.

Ùr-Fhàsaidh
Jason Michael
Blog Author

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