Pensioners renting rooms to students should not lose medical cards, Senator says

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris is being urged to take a more flexible approach when it comes to pensioners renting a room to students
Pensioners renting rooms to students should not lose medical cards, Senator says

James Cox

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris is being urged to take a more flexible approach when it comes to pensioners renting a room to students.

Some are concerned that they may lose their medical card if they pass the income threshold when they receive rental payments.

The weekly gross medical card income threshold for those aged 70 and over is currently €550 per week for a single person and €1,050 for a couple.

Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne has called on Minister Harris to make provisions for a rent-a-room scheme, so pensioners won't be discouraged from offering a room to students- particularly with the current student housing crisis.

Ms Byrne said: “The anecdotal evidence I am receiving from pensioners is that some who wish to rent a room are discouraged from doing so due to potentially going above the medical card income threshold.

“Students and pensioners would jointly benefit from an income disregard whereby a certain amount of income from a particular source, the rent a room scheme in this case, is not considered. Ultimately, this would avoid interference with the medical card income threshold."

She added: "A flexible approach to student housing is exactly what we need. We must ensure that pensioners willing to rent a room are not met with obstacles.

“It is imperative that we resolve this issue as soon as possible and remove what could potentially be an obstacle to increasing accommodation for students."

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