Frank Pentony, Louth County Council Director of Services, told the September meeting of the Dundalk Municipal District that “evictions” of tenants is needed.
The matter was discussed at the September’s meeting of the Municipal District, formerly the Dundalk Town Council.
The housing report shows that over €2 million is owed to the County Council. The number of rent accounts in arrears at the end of July was 1,876.
The total owed to the Council is €2,018,359.
Mr Pentony said that the council has not evicted anybody in 20 years.
He also added that he does not believe that some tenant cannot afford to pay.
“The Council has not evicted any tenant in over 20 years,” Mr Pentony told the meeting.
“We probably need some evictions. I am not convinced that not all tenants cannot pay.
“There are also people who just won’t pay. The non payment of rent affects the councils cash flow. It is a Catch-22 for the council. We have an obligation to provide social housing, but we also need to collect the rent.”
Mr Pentony also highlighted that there is numerous ways for tenants to pay rents and that the council’s door is also open to discuss issues.
“There is several ways to pay rent, including direct debit, in person or at the post office. If somebody is in trouble, they should come and talk to us. A lot of people do not come to us and put their head in the sand.”
Cllr Marianne Butler was disappointed that a breakdown of the total figures is not available.
“This is the Dundalk Municipal District and a breakdown is required for the number of people seeking houses, allocated a house and those in arrears.”
Cllr Mark Dearey highlighted that Monaghan County Council do not carry out maintenance work for tenants who do not reply to rent arrears queries.
Cllr Maria Doyle said the council is “losing huge amounts of money” and that the “personal touch” to the matter is important, while Fianna Fail’s Cllr Peter Savage suggested that a subcommittee be formed to develop an “innovative” way to contribute to overcoming the problem. Independent Maeve Yore said the council needs to take a more stringent approach to the issue.
Cllr Edel Corrigan said she would be “wary” of the figure and that council tenants “do not have the luxury to own their own home.”
She added: “Housing associations need to be more accountable to the council and a review of the housing policy is needed.”
Cllr Jim Loughran said that “every obstacle” was being put in the way of people building their own home by planners.