Draconian rent increases for local authority tenants have been introduced by Tipperary County Council since 2 July. It has no regard for the effects these huge increases have on the tenants concerned. They have been introduced without the specific approval of the local councillors, on the basis that management claims the making of a differential rent scheme is a function for the manager and not the elected members.
Section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 made the making and revocation of a differential rent scheme a reserved function of local authority members. This provision was never introduced, despite promises it would be as far back as 2011. A similar provision to make the revocation or making of a differential rent scheme a reserved function of local authority members was included in the Local Government Reform Act 2014. That was on the basis the Government was delegating to local councillors new functions at the same time local councils, town councils and borough councils were being abolished. There is now confusion as to whether that provision in the 2014 Act is operational.
I have a copy of a statutory instrument that seems to suggest the Act is operable. It is SI 214 of 2014 in the name of Phil Hogan who was the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government at the time. One section of the order states 1 June 2014 is appointed as the day on which the Local Government Reform Act 2014, in so far as it is not in operation, comes into operation.
The increases are draconian and I have numerous examples. To give a flavour of the type of increases introduced, the rent of a family of four comprising two young children and both the husband and wife on social welfare with one on a carer's allowance went from €39.80 to €91.80, a difference of €52 per week or €208 per month. I have a number of similar cases. These draconian increases should and must be reversed. What is the position in the making of a differential rent scheme? Is it a reserved function of local authority members? If not, when will it be made a reserved function as set out in the 2009 and 2014 legislation? It is clear that management in councils throughout the country is now using this confusion to impose huge and savage increases on local authority tenants.