Owners of second homes, holiday homes, buy to let properties and renters affected by mica have been urged to tell their story and highlight a crucial aspect of the campaign,
The properties are one of the ‘pillars’ put forward by mica redress campaigners to government for inclusion on the revised scheme, however, Mica Action Group PRO Michael Doherty said the signs aren’t promising.
“We went to Dublin as one voice and we always acknowledged that. It was always part of our agenda to get these homes included. What we’re seeing as we get closer to the time and as we’re ‘reading the room’ and starting to see what’s likely to happen - even though we don’t know the details - is that there will be a deal for principal private residents. But, we’re getting that they’re prepared to walk away from rental families and landlords.”
Mr Doherty said there are two aspects to the argument for the inclusion of these homes - the landlords who have bought and paid for a property in good faith and the families who are living in the house and will have nowhere to go.
“They don’t seem to have any sympathy for the landlords. By right, the landlord needs looked at as well, as they have bought and paid for their house in good faith. Campaigners have to find pathways of getting what the government don’t want to cover and one that gets past their obstacles.”
Mr Doherty said landlords are being seen as ‘investors,’ who have ‘made a bad investment’ and this is unacceptable.
“If your house is made of bad blocks and you had no way of knowing it at the time, that’s not as simple as saying the investor made a bad investment. But, that’s not an argument we’re necessarily winning, so we have to react and see what is palatable to government. So, we’ve said, if you’re not prepared to do right by the landlord, what are you going to do about the families who are tenants?”
Mr Doherty pointed out how there are very few houses to rent in Donegal.
“We have a lot of families who are tenants and because of that, can’t apply to the scheme and neither can the landlords. So where do the families go?
“The government is telling us, on one hand, they are not prepared to look after the investor but we say: ‘Well, what are you going to do about the families who have nowhere to go?’”
Michael outlined how he made a ‘shout out’ on social media asking for support in the campaign for all those people
“A landlord finds there’s no way on earth they can afford 200,000 or 300,000 to replace a buy to let home so will have no other option than to let the home go until there is a scheme. In the meantime, you’ll have a family living in an increasingly dangerous home until they have to move out.”
Michael said he wants people to ‘tell their own stories’ - many already have - and stressed how they ‘have not been abandoned in any shape or form’.
“You can do a lot in winning hearts and minds throughout the country in telling your own story.”
RTE is due to visit an estate in Carndonagh on Monday and speak to renters who lives in mica affected homes. Michael also pointed out how there are 17,000 families on the HAP scheme in Donegal, many in mica affected homes. He said when these homes deteriorate, the council will need to rehome the families, in an already huge waiting list
“The only option would be to put them in B&Bs and hotels -and that’s not the fault of the Local Authority- the government would rather do that than put these homes on the scheme and get them fixed. They are low income families who can’t afford market value tenancies. They have nowhere to go and there is still a belief it should be principal private residences only.” If you’d like to share your story, you can contact Mica Action Group on Facebook.