50 termination notices issued recently in Mullingar alone

Over 50 termination notices have been issued to tenants in the Mullingar area in recent months, leading to fears that the local homelessness problem is going to get significantly worse this winter.

At the October meeting of Mullingar Kinnegd Municipal District yesterday (Monday), Cllr Mick Dollard said that a huge number of families are facing the prospect of being homeless this winter after receiving termination notices from their landlords recently.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner after the meeting, Cllr Dollard said that he is inundated with calls from local families who are worried that they won't be able to find a place to live due to the shortage of rental properties in the Mullingar area.

“I get on average five or six calls a day from people looking for social housing. I have people who have been on the Rental Accommodation Scheme for 12 years who have got termination notices.”

Cllr Dollard said that in the last four or five months increasing numbers of landlords have decided to sell their properties to take advantage of high house prices because they are getting “fleeced with tax”.

There are a number of approved housing bodies building social housing developments at different locations around the town, including a 97 unit estate on the Ballymahon Road, however, Cllr Dollard says that until Westmeath County Council starts building their own social housing schemes like they did in the past, demand will continue to exceed supply.

He believes that the government needs to reduce the red tape that council's have to go through when building social housing, particularly given the scale of the homelessness crisis.

Cllr Dollard added that instead of depending on the private rental market to provide social housing through the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme and Rental Accommodation Scheme over the past decade, the government should have been encouraging Westmeath County Council and other local authorities to buy houses when prices were low.

He says that many of the people after receiving a termination notice are worried that due to the shortage of rental accommodation in the Mullingar area, they will become homeless when their tenancy comes to an end.

“I have women coming into me crying because they don't know what is going to happen, especially when there are kids involved. Everyone has a right to accommodation.

“When some gets a social house it gives them a huge lift and gives them security. Instead of building 100 a year like we did 20 years ago, we need to start building 200 houses to satisfy people's needs,” he said.