HUNDREDS of council tenants have been hit with €170 fines in the latest rent review carried out by Cork County Council.
377 households were penalised with the fines in the South Cork area alone for the non-return of rent review forms, a new report has found.
At a meeting in County Hall, Councillor Diarmuid Ó Cadhla asked for a justification for the €170 fine which is on average 300% greater than the average social housing rent.
He also queried the personal data that the council was seeking from tenants, saying it went beyond what was reasonable.
The council will request data from the tenant on others living at the property, adults and children.
Mr Ó’Cadhla said: “Obviously data has to be collected, I don’t think anyone has an issue with that, but I do have an issue with the manner in which it is being sought and the extent to which that is being sought. It is far beyond what is reasonable.
“This is adding to a feeling that social housing tenants are second class citizens, simply because they happen to be tenants in public housing.”
Mr Ó’Cadhla’s concerns were supported by Midleton Councillor Danielle Twomey who said she had constituents panicking when the €170 penalty was handed out.
Mrs Twomey said in one instance, the documents required had been filed and the fine was issued due to a clerical error within the Council Department.
“€170 is an awful lot of money to a lot of people and I think that really needs to be looked at,” she said.
Mr O’Cadhla requested a legal opinion on current practices, which was brushed aside by County Chief Executive Tim Lucey.
“I am satisfied in the manner in which the questions are posed and the information is sought and it is useful within the organisation. Anybody who is concerned themselves can take their own legal advice.
“As Chief Executive, I can tell you that we collect the information appropriately and we use the information in the way it is asked. The legislation exists to allow us to do that and we are operating within the legislation.”