Societal and Legislative Attitudes Toward Social Housing Tenants in Ireland: Critical Evaluation of Housing Law and Policies, Statistics, Case Law and Literature

By Tatiana V. Kelly
2013, Vol. 5 No. 08 | pg. 4/4 |

What remains clear is that many local authorities do not apply the Act in their policies. The courts find themselves restricted to the only remedy, which is the Declaration of Incompatibility.45 The only reviewing mechanism available to tenants is a judicial review, which is the only safeguard available, 46subject to prompt application after the Notice to Quit was served.47Social housing tenants, as a result, may find themselves being substantially restrained in advocating their rights due to such limitations.

Related, in a sense that it makes a tenant homeless, is the “excluding order” under Section 14 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, which absolves the State from the obligation to house a person who is engaged in anti-social behavior. While this is not a summary procedure, and rights to quiet enjoyment by other tenants can be considered as prevailing, in comparison with those of tenants who causes disturbance, the draconian effect it may have on an excluded tenant suggests that other remedies should be available and utilized by local authorities and HSEs. Following compulsory procedure can be adopted, such as orders for rehabilitation treatments in cases of substance addictions or anger management and reintegration programs for those already marginalized and socially excluded, who may not be able to deal with this issue due to the lack of resources or independent will. It can be argued that superficial structural approaches such as better estate designs, recreation facilities do not go to the root of the problem and solve it, but have more preventative function.

Conclusions

Local authorities in Ireland, undoubtedly, provide a valuable service for those in need of accommodation. Their policies and guidelines continue to improve, but in overall, they create a perception that housing rights by some citizens are not taken as seriously as others. A number of existing approaches, such as residualization and eviction procedures, when looking from the fairness and equality point of view, are in need of review. Legislative and policy local authority housing law provisions remain very complex and integrated. To date, there is no local authority tenants association which would represent and advocate their rights.

Despite the current economic decline, a basic right to adequate shelter in its modern meaning for all Irish citizens shall be upheld in our democratic society. Our failure to date to provide adequate affordable housing, appropriate to need for all people, is one of the key obstacles towards reducing significant inequalities persisting in Irish society.48 Decay in the present housing system in Ireland, combined with limited financial recourses, continues to contribute to the inequality.49

It should be appreciated, that for many of social housing tenants such accommodation is tenure of a last resort; a decision, which resulted from desperation; a shelter, rather than a home. General public should not eliminate these angles in forming their perceptions and delegating powers to those in authority. In return, the Government can educate public through the effective and adequate use of media, to ensure that public opinion is not based solely on stereotypes, which often shape perceptions.50

Being considered from the wealth status as a second-class does not necessarily mean that the person bear second-class characteristics in relation to other areas such as talents, intellect, physical ability, moral qualities. There are many individuals, who may have a choice and wish not to use it or simply neglect it, and there are others, including social housing tenants, who may wished to do so, but due to various circumstances, often outside their control, never had this chance. For these and many other reasons alone, it is essential that the second-class status of social housing tenants in Ireland should be discussed with great caution.


References

Akers R, Criminological Theories: Introduction and Evaluation (2nd ed, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers 1999).

Blackwell J, A Review of Housing Policy (National Economic and Social Council 1988).

Briggs X, “Housing Opportunity, Desegregation Strategy and Policy Research” (2003) 22(2) Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 201-206.

Daily Mail Reporter, “Prioritise “Hard-Working Families” over Unemployment on Social Housing Lists, Minister Urges” Daily Mail (London, 27 June 2012).

Doyle O, Ryan D, “Judicial Interpretation of the European Convention on Act 2003: Reflection and Analysis” (2011) 33 Dublin University Law Journal 369-391.

Drudy PJ, Punch M, Out of Reach: Inequalities in the Irish Housing System (Tasc at New Island 2005).

Fahey T (ed), Social Housing in Ireland: A Study of Success, Failure and Lessons Learned (Oak Tree Press 1999).

Fahey T, Nolan B and Maitre B, Housing, and Wealth in Ireland (CPA 2004).

Galster G, “Consequences from the Residualisation of Urban Poverty During the 1990s: A Cautionary Tale” (2005) 19(2) Quarterly 199-125.

Harriot S, Matthews L, Social Housing: An Introduction (Longman 1998).

Jewkes Y, Media and Crime (Sage 2004).

Jones M, O’Brien V, Best Practice in Social Housing Development (Thomas Telford 2009).

Kenna P, “Local Authorities and the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003” in O’Connell D (ed), The Irish Human Rights Law Review (Clarus Press 2010).

Kenna P, “Local Authorities and the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003” in O’Donnell D (ed) Irish Human Rights Law Review (Clarus Press 2010).

Kenna P, “The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009” (2010) 15(2) Conveyancing and Property Law Journal 26.

Kenna P, “Will the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 Affect Local Government in Ireland?” (2004) 11(2) Irish Journal of European Law 193.

Kenna P, Housing Law, Rights and Policy (Clarus Press 2011).

King P, Choice and the End of Social Housing (IEA 2006).

Maddox N, Housing Authority Law (Round Hall 2010).

McCombs M, Shaw D, “The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media” (1972) 36(2) Public Opinion Quarterly 176-187.

Nixton J, Hunter C, “Discriminating Women: Anti-Social Behaviour and the of Conduct” in Millie A (ed), Securing Respect: Behavioural Expectations and Anti-Social Behavviour in the UK (Policy Press 2009).

Nolan B, Whelan C and Williams J, Where are Poor Households? The Spatial Distribution of Poverty and Deprivation in Ireland (Oak Tree Press 1988).

O’Dea E, “Irish Housing Policy, Citizenship and Limerick Regeneration” (2012) 3(2) Limerick Student Journal of Sociology 23-39.

O’Sullivan E, Homelessness and Social Policy in the Republic of Ireland (Trinity College 1996).

Reily G, “Rachel Peavoy Inquest Returning Verdict of Death by Misadventure” The Journal (6 April, 2011), http://www.thejournal.ie/rachel-peavoy-dublin-city-council-coroner-heating-ballymun-hypothermia-116922-Apr2011/.

Soss J, “Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Learning and Political Action” (1999) 93(2) The American Political Science Review 363-380.

Tighe R, “Public Opinion and Affordable Housing” (2012) 25(1) Journal of Planning Literature 3-17.

Tighe R, “Public Opinion and Affordable Housing: A Review of Literature” (2010) 25(1) Journal of Planning Literature 3-17.

Whyte J, Social Inclusion and the Legal System, Public Interest Law in Ireland (IPA 2002).

Irish Legislation:

Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

Housing Act 1966.

Housing Act 1988.

Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992.

Irish Regulations:

Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008, SI 2008/534.

Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amended) Regulations 2009, SI 2009/462.

Social Housing Assessment (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2011, SI 2011/321.

Social Housing Allocation Regulations 2011, SI 2011/198.

Irish Case Law:

Siney v Dublin Corporation [1980] IR 400.

Burke (a minor) v Dublin Corporation [1991] 1 IR 341.

Dublin City Council v Fennell [2005] IR 604.

Donegan v Dublin City Council [2008] IEHC 288.

Kerry County Council v McCarthy (SC, 28 April 1997).

Byrne v Judge Scally and Dublin Corporation (HC, 12 October 2000).

Foy v An t-Ard Chlaraitheoir [2007] IEHC 470.

Gifford and Another v Dublin City Council [2007] IEHC 387.

Rock v Dublin City Council (SC, 8 February 2006).

Irish Reports:

Housing Agency, Housing Needs Assessment 2002.

Housing Agency, Housing Needs Assessment 2005.

Housing Agency, Housing Needs Assessment 2008.

Housing Agency, Housing Needs Assessment 2011.

Central Statistics Office, Special Census Report on Homelessness 2011.

Social Justice Ireland, Ireland and the Europe Strategy: Employment, and Poverty (14 January 2013).

The All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, Ninth Progress Report: Private Property (Pn 2218-2004).

Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities (2007).

UK Cases:

Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza [2007] UKHL 30.

Other Legislation:

European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003.


Footnotes

1.) The All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, Ninth Progress Report: Private Property (Pn 2218-2004).

2.) Eideen O’Dea, “Irish Housing Policy, Citizenship and Limerick Regeneration” (2012) 3(2) Limerick Student Journal of Sociology 23.

3.) George Galster, “Consequences from the Redistribution of Urban Poverty During the 1990s: A Cautionary Tale” (2005) 19(2) Economic Development Quarterly 119.

4.) Xavier de Souza Briggs “Housing Opportunity, Desegregation Strategy, and Policy Research” (2003) 22(2) J Pol’y Analysis Mgmt 201.

5.) The All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, Ninth Progress Report: Private Property (Pn 2218-2004).

6.) PJ Drudy and Michael Punch, Out of Reach: Inequalities in the Irish Housing System (Dublin: Tasc at New Island, 2005), 35.

7.) J. Rosie Tighe, “Public Opinion and Affordable Housing: A Review of Literature” (2010) 25 (1) Journal of Planning Literature 3.

8.) John  Nixton and Caroline Hunter, “Disciplining Women: Anti-Social Behaviour and the Governance of Conduct” in Andrew Millie (ed), Securing Respect: Behavioural Expectations and Anti-Social Behaviour in the UK (Bristol: Policy Press, 2009).

9.) Maxwell  McCombs and Donald Shaw, “The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media” (1972) 36(2) Public Opinion Quarterly 176.

10.) Ronald Akers, Criminological Theories: Introduction and Evaluation (2nd  edn,  Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers 1999), 99.

11.) Ibid., at 100.

12.) Rosie Tighe, “Public Opinion and Affordable Housing” (2012) 25(1) Journal of Planning Literature 3, 12.

13.) Joe Soss, “Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Learning and Political Action” (1999) 93(2) The American Political Science Review 363.

14.) 49% or 1,439 people aged between 15 and 59 had only education to a lower secondary level, compared to 25% of the general population. 22% were educated to a primary level compared to only 8% of the general population.

15.) Housing Agency, Housing Needs Assessment 2011.

16.) Every three years, in accordance with Section 9 of the Housing Act 1988, housing authorities are required to undertake an assessment of housing need in their functional areas.

17.) According to the Housing Needs Assessment 2011, 65,643 applicants out of 98,318 were on the waiting list because they could not  meet the cost of accommodation. While 59,386 applicants were unemployed, the second largest category out of 98,318 applicants were in full or part-time employment with another 2,084 employed through Back to Work or FAS schemes.

18.) The largest category of applicants between 2002-2008 was the one where they were not able to meet the cost of accommodation. And while in the prevailing category there were unemployed applicants, the second largest category belonged to those in employment. See Housing Agency, Housing Need Assessments 2002, 2005 and 2008 for more detailed analysis.

19.) The study shows that Ireland is the fourth highest in EU according to unemployment figures and it is becoming long-term in nature and accounts for 60% of people who are unemployed. See Social Justice Ireland, Ireland and the Europe 2020 Strategy: Employment, Education and Poverty (14 January 2013).

20.) Section 85 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 sets out a manner in which a local authority is to put in place a scheme of priority. Particular regard is also to be given to certain categories of applicants, as defined in Section 9(2) of the Housing Act 1988.

21.) Daily Mail Reporter, “Prioritise “Hard-Working Families” over Unemployment on Social Housing Lists, Minister Urges” Daily Mail (London, 27 June 2012),  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2165280/Prioritise-hard-working-families-unemployed-social-housing-lists-ministers-urge-councils.html,assessed 10 January 2013.

22.) For example, in 2012, the minimum recommended income was €207.94, while the Job-Seekers allowance for those aged 22-24 was only €144 and €100 for those aged 18-21, leaving those people substantially below the poverty line. The largest category of applicants on social housing waiting lists, according to the Housing Needs Assessment 2011, aged 31-40 and unemployed also receive the standard rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance of only €188 since January 2012.

23.) Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities (2007).

24.) [1980] IR 400.

25.) [1991] 1 IR 341.

26.) CJ Finlay in Burke (a minor) v Dublin Corporation [1990] 1 IR 341, 349.

27.) Even though Mr. Farrell said the abandonment of other nearby flats during the regeneration meant the heating may not have been totally effective.

28.) Gavan Reilly, “Rachel Peavoy Inquest Returning Verdict of Death by Misadventure” The Journal (6 April, 2011), http://www.thejournal.ie/rachel-peavoy-dublin-city-council-coroner-heating-ballymun-hypothermia-116922-Apr2011/, accessed 10 February 2013.

29.) Burke (a minor) v Dublin Corporation [1990] 1 IR 341.

30.) Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008, Art. 5.

31.) Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008, SI 2008/534; Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009, SI 2009/462.

32.) Padraic Kenna, Housing Law, Rights and Policy (Clarus Press 2011), 749.

33.) Social Housing Assessment (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2011, SI 2011/321.

34.) Social Housing Allocation Regulations 2011, SI 2011/198.

35.) Dublin City Council v Rennell [2005] IR 604. However, it was also obiter noted in this case on page 605, that the position of the tenant of a housing authority compared unfavourably with that of a private tenant. It was further predicted, as it happened later in a number of cases, such as Donegan v Dublin City Counci [2008] IEHC 288, that such summary method might infringe certain articles of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003.

36.) Housing Act 1966, s 63(3).

37.) Unreported, Supreme Court, 28 April 1997.

38.) Unreported, High Court, 12 October 2000.

39.) Padraic Kenna, Housing Law, Rights and Policy, 2011 (Clarus Press 2011), 765.

40.) Dublin City Council v Fennell [2005] 1 IR 604.

41.) Padraic Kenna, Housing Law, Rights and Policy (Clarus Press 2011), 765.

42.) Donegan v Dublin City Council [2008] IEHC 288.

43.) Padraic  Kenna, “Local Authorities and the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003” in The Irish Human Rights Law Review (Clarus Press 2010); Oran Doyle and Desmond Ryan, “Judicial Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003: Reflections and Analysis” (2011) 33 DULJ 369.

44.) Oran Doyle and Desmond Ryan, “Judicial Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003: Reflections and Analysis” (2011) 33 DULJ 369, 370.

45.) Foy v An t-Ard Chlaraitheoir [2007] IEHC 470; Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza [2004] UKHL 30.

46.) Gifford and Another v Dublin City Council [2007] IEHC 387.

47.) Rock v Dublin City Council, Unreported, Supreme Court, 8 February 2006.

48.) PJ Drudy and Michael Punch, Out of Reach: Inequalities in the Irish Housing Systems (TASC at New Island 2005) 27.

49.) Eideen O’Dea, “Irish Housing, Citizenship and Limerick Regeneration”, (2012) 3(2) Limerick Student Journal of Sociology 23, 24.

50.) Rosie Tighe, “Public Opinion and Affordable Housing: A Review of the Literature” (2010) 25(1) Journal of Planning Literature 3, 17.

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