A family in Wicklow town are faced with the prospect of having no home after their landlord went into receivership.
The family have been renting a house in the Rose Hill estate for the past six years and are looking for a new home now that the receiver has decided to put their house up for sale.
Rachel Kelly and Wayne Fitzgerald, along with kids Leah (8), Maeve (8) and Caitlin (6), have been told that unless they find accommodation before the house is sold, they may have to move into a hostel.
Rachel told WicklowNews.net that this option is “absolutely off the table” because of the children’s medical conditions.
Little Leah suffers from scoliosis and requires specialist care requiring the family to live in a bungalow.
Maeve also suffers from acute asthma and is a regular visitor to the National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght.
The family’s rent allowance is €550 but they have been unable to find a house that either accepts rent allowance or is within the rent allowance rate for the county.
“If you are on rent allowance in Wicklow you cannot rent a home that costs more than €625 a month,” Wayne said. “All the houses available today cost around €800, and they don’t even accept rent allowance.”
The landlord, who is based in Northern Ireland, has not responded to any of the family’s attempts to get in touch.
“We put in new floors in the girls’ bedrooms and done up the house. The landlord wouldn’t even pay for the paint,” Wayne said.
“Now we have people coming into our home every Saturday to view the place and we have to get the girls ready and get out by 12.”
The family have also lost their deposit and their rent allowance is now suspended because the Department of Social Protection will not pay it to the receiver.
“If we were to move into a new house tomorrow, it would take about 12 weeks for a new rent allowance application to get sorted, and no landlord is going to wait 12 weeks for rent,” Wayne said.
People Before Profit’s Anna Doyle says there are 140 vacant houses in the greater Wicklow town area and she wants to see Wicklow County Council make some of them available to family’s like Wayne and Rachel’s.
“We have taken photos of around 140 vacant houses in Wicklow town and the surrounding area, but these houses are not up to standard and people cannot move in to them,” Doyle said.
“I would like to see the council let people away with the rent for six months and allow them to do the work themselves.
“We have been quoted by a local contractor who says he can get a boarded up house completely ready to move in for as little as €12,000.”
Rachel and Wayne say they have been “stonewalled” by Wicklow County Council but were informed by council staff that there are ten families in the town looking for new homes because their landlords went into receivership.
Wayne, along with other tenants in Wicklow town in a similar situation, are travelling to the Dáil tomorrow morning to bring their case to the attention of social protection Minister Joan Burton.