KILKENNY County Council is being forced to pay over €2.6 million a year in rent to privately registered landlords, who cannot be named.
A Freedom of Information request by a member of the public in Kilkenny was turned down by the local authority after it received legal advice on it. The person was told that there were conflicting rights involved and that publishing the names would impinge on the privacy of the tenants and the landlords. However, the Kilkenny People has discovered that every landlord receiving monthly or weekly payments through the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) administered by the local authority has to be registered on the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) website. The entire list for Kilkenny city and county is published on the online edition of the Kilkenny People on www.kilkennypeople.ie
The list does not say who owns the properties but it is believed they include some of the city’s wealthiest families but because of a conflict of interest, the local authority has said that it cannot give out the names of the 253 private landlords or the 270 voluntary bodies who are receiving the money.
The scheme is completely legitimate and above board but the person who sought the names of the landlords from the council thinks the names should be made public. Next year it will also take over the tenancies of those receiving subsidy from the Health Service Executive (HSE).
The man who went to the trouble of querying the system accepted there were other rights to be taken into account but said: “So what if you are in rented accommodation, many people are and it is no reflection on them. However, if you have your rent paid or supplemented by the state and that money is going to a private landlord, we the public should know who he or se is. After all, we live in a democracy and we should know where this public money is going,” he said. He agreed to provide his name if and when the council provided him with the names he requested,
Under the rules of Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) the rent is determined by the Council and the individual landlord. The council can seek lower rents because the landlord will not be forced to collect rent and because the landlord will not have to fill vacancies or advertise or interview perspective tenants for the duration of the RAS contract.
There are 523 units in total (253 private and 270 voluntary) in the RAS scheme around Kilkenny city and county. The total monthly rent paid by the council is €218,688 per month or €2.63 million per annum. Total monthly rent paid to the council by tenants - €11,357 per week or €590,000 per year.