ELDERLY homeowners being cared for in nursing homes or hospitals are being asked to consider renting their homes to help tackle the country’s housing shortage.
As part of a plan to use the nation’s vacant houses, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy’s department and the Department of Health will explore how the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme “could be adjusted to encourage and facilitate the use of vacant properties of people in nursing home care”.
Voice of Cork’s elderly, Paddy O’Brien is “strongly” against the proposal.
“When I heard the minister speaking about the contribution the elderly could make to the housing shortage...I thought, “If it was the first of April I’d say it was a joke”,” he said.
“The impression is the elderly have loads and loads of vacant housing - they have not.” When referring to the almost 80,000 vacant homes identified nationwide during the Census in April last year, Minister Murphy said it was “critical that we get a proper handle on the current vacancy levels”.
Mr O’Brien is constant contact with elderly people believes it’s “appalling” that the minister wants people in care to act as landlords.
“Have we come to a situation now where we’re depending on the elderly to solve the situation?
“I am totally against it, I mean it’s asking the elderly to turn into landlords; you’d imagine there are thousands and thousands with vacant properties.
“I don’t know what research his department have carried out on this, but I don’t know anyone who has a free rental house.” A relative of Mr O’Brien was left in financial turmoil after renting a property, through an agency, to a family of five, including three children.
“The tenants wrecked the house, the dirt and filth of the place.
“It cost thousands (€3,600) to repair everything - there was a lovely new dining table and chairs and there were holes in the seats, the stairs were black with tar, the curtains on the wall were torn down.
“They weren't homeless people, they weren’t poor people, they weren’t students, they were people with no control over children.
“To an elderly person their home is their castle, they love their home - what happens if these people destroy the house; who is going to pay for that?”
Cork City Councillor Thomas Gould said he has been proposing the idea regarding the adjustments to the Fair Deal scheme for the past three years.
“The government is not reacting quickly enough, there are a number of houses across the city and county left idle by the Fair Deal scheme and it is frustrating.
“I have been telling them for three years and I am annoyed at the slow pace.”