THERE were close to 300 refusals of offers for properties for those eligible for social housing in Cork city last year, marking a “significant increase” on previous years, the director of services in the council’s housing directorate has said.
Niall Ó Donnabháin said that of 983 offers processed in 2021, 279 were refused, representing a refusal rate of 28% for the full year.
“This is a marked escalation compared to a relatively static refusal rate averaging 15% over the four years from 2017 to 2020 inclusive,” Mr Ó Donnabháin said.
The volume of properties available for letting has also “increased exponentially”, he said, with the 983 offers processed last year exceeding the total of 832 offers processed in 2018 and 2019 combined.
He said that the “vast majority” of these offers were processed after the applicants had expressed interest in the property through the Choice Based Letting (CBL) system.
“The property listings on CBL include the address of the property; details of the facilities; photographs and a link on Google maps to show the exact location of the building.
“All of this information is provided to allow applicants to make an informed decision on the suitability of the particular property to meet their housing need prior to committing themselves to submit an expression of interest on an advertised property,” he said.
In relation to the reasons behind the refusals last year, Mr Ó Donnabháin said almost 60% of refusals processed were “due to the applicant deciding the area or the property on which they had previously expressed interest was unsuitable”.
Other reasons for refusals included no reason given for refusal (10.07%); applicant deemed the property too small (4.32%) and applicant claimed they bid in error (2.16%).
The information was provided in a written response to a question submitted by Independent councillor Ken O’Flynn ahead of Monday night’s full council meeting, who requested a breakdown of reasons for housing refusals for the year 2021.
The CBL system allows applicants on the waiting list to make decisions regarding where they would like to live and their tenure choices.
Cork City Council properties and properties available for letting with approved housing bodies are advertised on the CBL website each week, and applicants can submit an expression of interest or ‘bid’ on any suitable properties which meet their housing needs.
If a number of qualified people express an interest in a CBL home, the home will be allocated in line with the local authority’s allocation scheme.
If a person is offered a house or flat under the CBL system and refuses it, they are not able to apply for a CBL property for 12 months.
Mr Ó Donnabháin said that whilst this deferral period had a “significant impact” when it was introduced in November 2015, with the refusal rate dropping from 35% that year to 13% in 2016, “the deferral period no longer appears to have the same deterrent effect on applicants as was previously apparent”.
He said that the council will continue to closely monitor the rate of refusals in 2022.