A COUPLE, who are looking to start a family, say they can’t because they are sharing their Dunmanway home with rats.
Independent Cllr Paul Hayes said the couple – who are in receipt of Housing Assistance Payment (Hap) with Cork County Council – are renting a private property in rural Dunmanway and he called for it to be struck off the HAP-approved list.
‘They have a rat trap on their kitchen counter,’ is how Cllr Hayes summarised the awfulness of their situation to The Southern Star, ‘and, honest to God, you can see rat droppings everywhere.’
The councillor said he made representations to the housing authority on their behalf before Christmas, and he also raised the matter at a meeting of the Western Division on Monday.
When he made representations to the housing authority he said he was told that they are not at the top of the priority list and should seek alternative, Hap-approved, accommodation elsewhere. In other words, that they should move.
But the councillor said this couple, like lots of other single people, couples and families in West Cork, can’t find alternative accommodation because the houses are not there, or because the rents being asked are astronomical and well outside of their budgets, even those in receipt of Hap.
At the Western Division meeting, Cllr Hayes questioned the number, and the level, of inspections of Hap-approved properties and was told that 1,500 inspections were carried out last year but the number would reach 2,000 in 2023.
Aside from the vermin, Cllr Hayes was of the opinion that the wiring in the Dunmanway house is dangerous.
‘It’s a potential fire hazard,’ he said, ‘and the plumbing doesn’t look like it was done by a profession either, because there is a bucket on the floor to collect water leaking from the ceiling.’
The councillor described the property as being ‘a health hazard’ and he repeated his call to have the property struck off the Hap-approved list.
‘The standards in this place are appalling,’ he said.
‘The couple contacted me because they are keen to start a family. They know there is a housing crisis, but they can’t bring a baby into a house like this.’
‘They are doing their best,’ he added, ‘and are continuing to apply for houses on the Choice Based Letting (CBL) system but, at best, they can only be considered for a two-bed unit.’
He said the couple is in a limbo situation. ‘They are way down the list,’ he added, ‘yet the clock is ticking because they want to start a family.’
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