More than €1.4 million in rent arrears was owed to Clare County Council in 2021.
New figures show the amount of money owed to the local authority for domestic dwellings has progressively increased since 2016.
Data released to Clare FM via a Freedom of Information request shows Clare County Council took in more than nine million euro in rent from households last year.
That was across 3,153 ‘active accounts’, which averages out at around €2,865 a year per household.
While the amount of rent paid to the Council has continued to increase, so has the amount of money the local authority is owed.
There was €1.46 million in arrears in 2021, a number that’s jumped by more than 25 percent in the past five years.
The number of households under the Council’s remit has increased by just 8 percent in the same timeframe.
The Council has a graduated warning process for obtaining rents, which can escalate to legal proceedings and, on rare occasions, vacant possession of a Council tenancy.
The local authority’s told Clare FM a ‘balance must be struck’ between collecting rent arrears and providing tenants with support.
They say they intend to continue ‘strong engagement’ with tenants to ensure the Council maintains a strong rent collection rate.
Statement from Clare County Council
‘The amount of rent collected by Clare County Council between the years 2016-2021 has increased by 42% from €6.3m to €9.03m. There was an increase in rent accounts from 2916 accounts in 2016 to 3153 accounts in 2021. The amount of rent arrears associated with these rent accounts has increased from €1.07m to €1.4m in this period.
Payment of rent is a condition of all Council tenancies. The Council has comprehensive procedures and systems in place for the collection of rent and rent arrears which involves a graduated warning process which can escalate up to legal proceedings for the recoupment of arrears or vacant possession of the Council tenancy, as the last resort. The procedures encourage engagement with our tenants to address arrears as they arise and, in many cases, where arrears arise a payment plan is agreed to address the arrears over a reasonable period of time. A significant number of rent accounts that are in arrears have an agreed payment plan in place.
It is fair to say that many social issues come to light through engagement with our tenants around the issue of rent arrears. The balance must be struck between the collection of rent arrears and providing tenancy support to our tenants through the Council’s own social care team & estate management team or working with other agencies such as the tenancy support unit of Focus Ireland, MABS etc. Covid-19 has also had a significant impact on this area with reduced engagement with tenants, reduced access to Council offices for the payment of rent and reduced access to the Courts system. With current high inflation rates and increases in the costs of living this will remain a challenging area for the foreseeable future.
Notwithstanding these challenges the Council’s rent collection rate has remained consistent and strong at 86%, and the Council remains fully committed to being proactive in our rent collection procedures, taking action on rent arrears where they are warranted and continual engagement with our tenants to ensure we maintain a strong % rent collection rate.’