District Manager Sinead Carr said that tenants finding it difficult to pay their rent would be treated sympathetically by Tipperary County Council
A more compassionate approach should be taken by Tipperary County Council when dealing with rents, it was stated at a meeting of Clonmel Borough District.
Cllr. Pat English. who made that request, said that some tenants were now paying increases of between €60 and €80 in differential rents.
He knew the payments were income-based but criticised the fact that the carers' allowance was also being taken into consideration.
He said this was grossly unfair when you think of the work carers were doing, keeping people at home and "saving the state a fortune".
Cllr. English also thought it was sad that the council was now forcing tenants to seek the assistance of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).
However District Manager Sinead Carr said the council wasn't forcing tenants anywhere.
MABS was an excellent service and if someone wanted to avail of it they were free to do so.
Ms Carr said that the vast majority of rents that had gone up had increased because the incomes of tenants had increased.
Family income support and the carers' allowance had always been taken into account and that hadn't changed in the current scheme.
Ms Carr said that any tenants who were struggling and finding it difficult to pay their rent should contact council official Deirdre Flannery and they would be treated with sympathy.
Cllr. Catherine Carey said that many families were now in hardship because of increases in their rents.
District Mayor Richie Molloy said he always felt it was unfair that the carers' allowance was taken into account when assessing rents. He wondered if that could be reviewed at local level or if it was a matter for the Department of the Environment.
Cllr. Molloy also said that there didn't appear to be any properties available for rent under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.
He had sympathy for people with small children who were in that situation and were probably being accommodated in guesthouses.
The District Mayor said they had to keep pushing it back to the government, requesting that a serious house building programme would be undertaken.
Sean Lonergan, senior staff officer in the County Council's housing department, said they were aware that the rent caps to qualify for the HAP scheme were very low. They had requested the Department of the Environment to have another look at increasing those levels.
At present the number of tenants in receipt of HAP was 1700 in the county and 71 in the Clonmel area.