Landlords ‘feel victimised’ by councillors raising anti-social issues, says Gilligan
Councillors raising concerns over anti-social behaviour in rented accommodation is not helping the housing crisis. That is the view of a senior council official, who says the practice victimises landlords.
The issue of anti-social behaviour and new new policies to deal with it was raised by Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne at last week’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council. However, Tom Gilligan, Director of Services with Mayo County Council, felt that raising the issue at meetings was not helping the housing crisis.
The councillors were informed by Mr Gilligan that the number of property available to rent has never been so low, with only around 20 properties available for rent in the entire county.
“We have a lot of accidental landlords who are fleeing the market at the moment,” Mr Gilligan said. “When we talk of antisocial behaviour it is important, especially here at council meetings, to note there are some landlords who feel victimised … We are not helping ourselves by raising issues of antisocial behaviour.
“It is occurring in a very small proportion, and we need to keep that in perspective and [be] mindful we have an very acute shortage of rental properties. We need to be sure landlords stay in the market for as long as possible, so we can increase the supply of housing in both the social and the private sector. That is paramount going forward,” he told the councillors.
Mr Gilligan added that a recent report highlighted that for every property in Mayo available for rent there was 22 listed on the Airbnb website, and he asked these homeowners to consider renting instead.
The Director of Services’ remarks did not go down well. Cllr Kilcoyne said he took exception to Mr Gilligan’s comments, saying that people are being terrorised by their neighbours’ anti-social behaviour and landlords were doing nothing about it.
The councillor said he took grave exception to the suggestion that when councillors ‘as elected representatives’ raise questions ‘about absentee landlords and landlords who don’t look after their tenants’ they are ‘in some way contributing to the fact there is no houses for accommodation’.
“One of the biggest landlords in this county, Mayo County Council, is one of the most remiss in implementing policies in relation to antisocial behaviour,” he added.
Flynn calls for action
Meanwhile, Westport councillor Peter Flynn called on the new Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Kevin Kelly, to make housing the council’s number-one priority. Speaking at the meeting, he said that the council needed to get back to basics and ensure that the needs of the people are looked after.
“I know you are only in the door, but I am appealing to you to make housing the single most important issue in this council … We really do have to fix it. We had a campaign about getting people to move to Mayo, but we need to look after our Mayo people first and make sure that our young people working in towns and villages have access to homes, whether it is for rental or to buy.
“We need to make sure that is prioritised in every shape and form. I was to see a refocusing on what is important. We need to deliver on infrastructure in the next two or three years,” he said.