Charity warns against using bedsits in housing crisis

The measure is among a number of suggestions under consideration

Charity warns against using bedsits in housing crisis

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The housing charity Threshold says the housing crisis will not be solved by bringing back bedsit accommodation.

Housing Minister Murphy has indicated that scrapping the bedsit ban is among the measures under consideration - along with other ideas such as a tax on vacant properties and scrapping the 'help-to-buy' scheme.

In comments quoted by The Irish Examiner, Minister Murphy said the bedsit idea is currently just a suggestion, but noted: “I think it’s important that, when I approach this review, I don’t take anything off the table too soon until I’ve looked at it properly to see if it could be part of the solution."

 The Government is currently reviewing its 'Rebuilding Ireland' housing strategy, which was introduced by the previous housing minister Simon Coveney.

Threshold chief executive, John-Mark McCafferty, said: "It is worrying that almost a decade after the introduction of legislation to eliminate the bedsit, we are now hearing calls for their re-introduction as a response to the current accommodation shortage.

"Last year saw the publication of Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness. Are we now, as a society, so bereft of ideas that the best response we can come up with is to bring back the bedsit?”.

'€10,000 can make the bedsit usable'

Bedsits were eliminated in 2009, following the introduction of regulations to remove sub-standard accommodation where occupants had to share bathrooms and cooking facilities and, in some cases, to use outdoor toilets. 

Mr McCafferty added: "The reality is that the bedsit was already in decline as a source of accommodation before the regulations were introduced.

"In the five-year period between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, the number of bedsits fell by 50%, as tenants found better-quality accommodation elsewhere and landlords faced up to the fact that sub-standard bed-sits were not a viable housing option in the 21st Century.

"That 50% reduction didn’t lead to any discernible increase in homelessness."

The Junior Housing Minister Damien English said €10,000 could make a bedsit livable again.

He said bedsits are not the solution to the housing crisis - but stressed there are around 4,000 or 5,000 bedsits that could be refurbished.

On Newstalk Breakfast earlier, he explained: "There's properties there lying idle, because of the regulation changes. The changes were probably wise at the time - but maybe we can adjust that or help access finance.

"I've been in some of these properties - if you spend up to €10,000 and you can make the bedsit usable again in much better condition."

He added: "We're going to see can we bring the properties back into use - they won't be the exact same as they were in the past."

Additional reporting: Jack Quann