The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is developing systemic responses to the escalating challenge posed by the war in Ukraine and resulting refugee crisis. The total number of refugees entering Ireland as a result of this crisis may be in the hundreds of thousands and therefore all options must be explored to find suitable accommodation.
Currently, the Department of Housing is not suggesting that vacant social housing units be used for housing refugees, although this may be an option that is explored at a later date.
One key way that social housing can be utilised to address this crisis is by AHB tenants pledging spare rooms through the Irish Red Cross’ Register of Pledges.
Before tenants pledge accommodation, the following guidelines should be considered.
Consent of the AHB landlord must be received in writing before any accommodation pledge is registered through the Irish Red Cross. Tenants should be aware that to allow someone to reside in their property without the prior knowledge and consent of their landlord is a significant breach of tenancy and can have serious consequences.
Section 3.6 of the standard ICSH tenancy agreement states:
The tenant shall only allow the occupants listed in this tenancy agreement to reside in the dwelling. Allowing a person to live in the dwelling where they are not listed in this tenancy agreement, and without the written consent of the landlord, is a breach of the tenancy agreement and could lead to the tenancy agreement being terminated by the landlord. If the tenant wishes for a person to move into the dwelling, they must ask the landlord for its consent. Any occupants, who reside in the dwelling with the consent of the landlord, are not permitted to become tenants of the dwelling.
Tenants should only consider pledging spare rooms in their property. The entire property should not be pledged, nor should any rooms that would involve sharing a bedroom with other household members or that would lead to overcrowding. Once landlord consent has been received and a pledge made, tenants will be contacted by the IRC to arrange an inspection to determine suitability of the accommodation.
Status of Occupant
As per the tenancy agreement, the new person or persons residing in the property will have permission to reside there as a named occupant of the property. However they will not be considered to be tenants or gain tenancy rights for the duration of their stay.
Any new occupants are expected to abide by the terms of the tenancy agreement in relation to not engaging in anti-social behaviour.
Rent will not be charged by the AHB in relation to the new occupants and the charging of rent by the tenant to the new occupiers is expressly prohibited. Accommodation pledges are made on a voluntary basis with no rent to be charged by any party.
The Irish Red Cross is co-ordinating this response and providing support to providers of accommodation. Once a pledge of accommodation has been made, a caseworker will be assigned to assist with the property assessment, matching with a suitable person or persons and supporting with the move-in process.