2,064 three bed council houses in Dublin with only one occupant!

Discussion in 'Housing and mortgage arrears - policy issues' started by Brendan Burgess, 25 Oct 2018.

  1. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Karl Deeter and I have collected the occupancy data council houses in the 4 local Dublin local authorities.

    Here is the summary


    Other data


    Attached Files:

  2. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Last edited: 25 Oct 2018
    I don't know anyone who is renting privately who chooses to live in a 4 bedroom house on their own - they couldn't afford to.
    Most people I know who are renting privately can't afford to rent a one bed apartment and so they rent a room in someone else's house.
    And I know people who own their own home who would like to live on their own, but they are struggling with their mortgage and their property tax so they have to take in a lodger.

    But these normal rules of sharing a scarce resource do not apply to council housing.

    Once you get the house, you get it for life irrespective of your need and irrespective of your means. Unless of course, you need a bigger house, in which you can apply to trade up.

    At the very least, 53 of the people living on their own in 4 bedroom houses should swap with the 53 families living in overcrowded conditions.

    But just as in the private sector, people who don't own their own houses and who can't afford to rent a house should rent a room in a house.

    Give people living on their own in houses with more than one bedroom 6 months to find friends or neighbours in the same circumstances and share with them.

    If they don't do so within 6 months, they will lose their home and they will be paid rent allowance and can find somewhere to rent.

    This way we can free up thousands of houses
    Last edited: 25 Oct 2018
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  3. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Any new council housing built in Dublin should be one bed units.
    Move the people who are occupying large houses into these one bed units to free them up.

    A complete ban on selling houses at a discount to tenants - but do allow them to be sold at market value.

    And a complete ban on successor tenancies.

    Firehead, NicolaM, Annie51 and 2 others like this.
  4. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    How many houses could freed up through reallocation?

    To each according to their needs, but no more.

    We have 4,962 people living on their own in 12,379 rooms.

    If they shared, that would leave 7,417 rooms free

    which would be 2,703 two bed houses (5,406 rooms)
    and 670 three bed houses (2010 beds)
  5. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

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  6. Blackrock1

    Blackrock1 Frequent Poster

    this is a real proper scandal, i wonder how widely it will be reported.
  7. Delboy

    Delboy Frequent Poster

    Great analysis, something that's lacking in this current 'housing crisis'. But I'm afraid this is largely going to be a non-runner. No one is going to force (or even attempt to talk to) Mrs Murphy out of her home where she's lived for the past 60 years, has ties to the community etc. Not going to happen.

    There are several issues that are impacting the housing shortage in this country that aren't even up for debate.
  8. TheBigShort

    TheBigShort Frequent Poster

    Last edited by a moderator: 25 Oct 2018
    With respect Brendan, while I dont disagree with the sentiment expressed, it is the legal and administrative quagmire that you would unleash that makes your suggestions inoperable.

    I think this is the critical sentence in the piece

    "While it is important to respect individuals, accommodate special circumstance and be mindful of the needs of others"

    Once you begin to dig into that just a little you will understand that compelling people to leave their homes (as that is what they are) will simply bring about revolt.

    As a simple example, a couple with no kids, qualifying for social housing would be afforded a one-bed apt? If they start a family, presumably they move into a two-bed? If they have a second kid, will they have to move again? Third kid, fourth kid, and so forth, keep on moving.
    Will their jobs, schools move with them?
    What if, tragically, a family member dies will they have to move again into a smaller property?

    This is just scratching on the surface of the quagmire that you would fall into with such a proposal.
    Last edited by a moderator: 25 Oct 2018
  9. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

    It's not theirs. It's a resource of the state to ensure citizens have shelter that has been assigned to them. They should have no ownership or entitlement rights beyond the state meeting that need, as it sees fit, making best uses of the resources it has available.
    Should everyone on the council list be given a three bed house on the off chance they might have a family in the future? For life? Even as people sleep in the streets and in hotel rooms? Even as people who don't qualify for the council list struggle to save to move themselves from an apartment to a house?
    The moral conclusion of your argument is that everyone in the state should be given a three bed house at 18, regardless of their means, wherever they want it.

    But back to the real world...
    If they have to keep on moving, they should keep on moving. If they aren't happy with that, pay for their own housing, at full market rate.
    It's what people who live in the real world have to do, match their housing to what they can afford and what they need, rent, buy, sell, trade up, trade down, as family size goes up and down.

    If the state is incapable of managing the stock effectively, then it should withdraw entirely from the direct provision of housing and conduct everything through the private sector.
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  10. mugsymugsy

    mugsymugsy Frequent Poster

    Bedroom tax like the uk. Offer people chance to move to one bedroom and if they reject it then bedroom tax of x per room per week. I wouldn't be surprised if these under occupied houses either have undeclared people / rooms being rented out.
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  11. TheBigShort

    TheBigShort Frequent Poster

    Its not their property but it is their home.

    And you think putting resources into a big game of social housing musical chairs will be resources put to good use?

    No. Never said they should. Its is an option, but I wouldn't advocate for that.


    You have made a giant conclusion there. Im merely asking how such a proposal would work in real-life. I dont think it could be done effectively.

    This is the real world we are talking about it. Im not happy about things either. But im interested in finding plausible solutions. I do not think compelling people to move is workable for a plethora amount of reasons.

    You seem to have disregarded what was written in the Indo.
    Both Brendan and Karl admitted that "While it is important to respect individuals, accommodate special circumstance and be mindful of the needs of others"

    they failed to elaborate on what this actually meant. Some examples might help?
    And then you will understand that the proposal is inoperable.

    Yes, if being the appropriate word. But how are you going to make someone move if they dont want to? And where will you move them too?

    People on low incomes cant pay full market rates. That's why they are in social housing.
    Anyway, why would the State charge its citizens markets rates? The State has no business trying to profit from or exploit its citizens.

    Again, this is the real world we are talking about. We are looking for plausible solutions.

    The State did, to a great extent, withdraw from the provision of social housing. It cut funding to LA to build housing, sold 2/3 of its stock and more or less let the private sector build when and wherever it thought fight.
    We are in the mess we are in now because the State abdicated its responsibility to provide housing.
  12. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster


    As is a property being rented by someone and paid for privately. It's not theirs.

    I think Brendan's figures have shown without a doubt that we are not putting our resources to good use right now.
    A three bed house let at a discount to a single occupant is an unjustifiable use of resources in a housing shortage.

    Either via a bedroom tax, or an allowance per person towards the rent. A single occupant in a three bedroom house would have to fund the difference and topup the allowance to the full market rent. Get rid of this nonsense where an adult family member, who hasn't lived in the property in years, 'inherits' the parent's council house, regardless of their current needs or income.

    Putting families in hotel rooms, while a single person takes up a whole 3 bed house, is not being mindful to the needs of others.

    How is a private renter moved if they split from their partner and can no longer afford to rent a full house or apartment on their own?
    The state moving people around would not be something that isn't experienced every day by people in the real world trying to make their own way in life.

    It's not profiteering or exploitation. By undercharging its renters, or under utilising its resources, it means less housing stock and less funds available to it in meeting the housing needs of citizens. If they can't pay the full market rates, they take the property that they state has deemed suitable for them.
    Just as the state deems what treatments and drugs are and are not covered under the medical card scheme.

    It needs to get efficient in its use of housing stock, or get out.
  13. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

    Dublin City Council already does this in assessing housing needs:
    http://www.dublincity.ie/sites/defa...gForAHome/Adopted Allocations Scheme 2018.pdf

    Scan to section 2.5 Assessment of Bedroom Requirement
  14. gnf_ireland

    gnf_ireland Frequent Poster

    There has been lots of discussion on the need to get older people to downsize from their family homes to something more suitable for their needs - when they own their home and have paid for it
    Surely it makes sense to have the same discussion for renters, whether social housing or private renters.

    I understand people may not wish to move out of their 'homes', but in that case there needs to be a facility where there is some level of accommodation sharing. No single person should have the right to a 3 bed house, paid for by the state, when we are in the depths of a housing crises and there are families in emergency accommodation.

    And for the record, I would also be in favour of a 'bedroom tax' whereby if someone owns a property and there are unused bedrooms, there can be a level of a surcharge applied to the property tax. So lets say I am in a 4 bedroom house with only 1 person living there, the tax would apply to say 2 of the bedrooms (1 is reserved for as a guest room for example). This tax could be avoided by availing of the rent a room scheme!
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  15. RichInSpirit

    RichInSpirit Frequent Poster

    The Government outlawed perfectly decent one bed room accommodation, the bedsit.
    That was the start of the Property Shortage.
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  16. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

    Bedsits are always bad when they are called bedsits and run by private landlords.
    Whereas the same living arrangements in a state run family hub is a wonderful thing.
  17. The Horseman

    The Horseman Frequent Poster


    We don't have enough properties available at the moment. We wont have more properties in the short term for a number of reasons, not enough builders, plumbers etc, not enough serviced land etc.

    It will take years to increase the supply whether people accept this point or not. We need to better utilize the stock we have.

    It is morally wrong to have people living in properties with excess bed spaces while you have families in hotels/hubs etc.

    Why is ok to allow a person stay in a property which is clearly to big for them while leaving families in unsuitable accommodation, why should the person in the property be treated better than the family. We don't have enough new properties coming on stream and no matter what you say it will take years to bring them on board.

    You have made previous suggestions that the LA should engage the use of property managers to manage properties on behalf of the LA and would guarantee an agreed rent to the LA. Firstly this is an aspirational suggestion which does not solve the immediate situation ie (lack of supply). Secondly if the property managers where faced with the situation of under utilized properties as have been highlighted in findings by Karl Deeter and Brendan Burgess they would better utilize the existing available bed spaces.

    The existing model is completely uneconomical, it is a waste of State resources in what is being hailed as a housing crisis. A crisis by its nature calls for steps outside the normal (for the good of society). I note that suggestions are being made to CPO properties, should the State not better utilize its existing stock of properties before it spends more money?
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  18. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Hi Delboy

    I don't underestimate the difficulty of convincing politicians to do something like this.

    However, the first step is to publish the data which we have done for Dublin.

    The second step is to get the debate going. That has started but it was lost in the discussion about the air bnb ban. But we will raise it again.

    I think it should be part of the overall solution.

    I spoke to someone yesterday who told me about a couple they knew in Cork who tried to trade down from their council house to a smaller house, but the council did not want to know. The council eventually agreed to put them on a transfer list, but apparently that means nothing as it never moves.

    So we could take the following approach in order
    1) Change councils so that those who do ask to trade down can be facilitated.
    2) Ask people to trade down from a 4 bed house to a one bed house or else ask them to take in people off the Housing List
    3) Tell them that they are trading down.

    In tandem with this...
    An absolute ban on selling houses at a discount. If I lived in a 4 bed house which I could buy for 60% of its market value, I would not trade down.
    An absolute ban on successor tenancies.
    Start charging rent based on the size of the house.

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  19. Delboy

    Delboy Frequent Poster


    I agree that this needs to be discussed and debated. But it'll be a short debate and then it'll be forgotten. Politicians will not touch certain matters around housing and this is one of them.

    But your other point about the transfer list and it not moving is interesting. On another thread there is a discussion about outsourcing the management of social housing to private letting agents. Something like house transfers/transfer list be given to letting agents could work too as in my experience of working in several areas of the Public Service, the staff in the Local Authorities are the worst by far of any ps/cs. They are indifferent at best, inept at worst.

    So take all aspects of housing management away from the LA's and let the private letting agents at it but manage them tightly and carefully so that they don't become too eager to move people around especially if it's a transaction based contract they are rewarded under.
  20. The Horseman

    The Horseman Frequent Poster

    I can almost guarantee you the outsourcing of the transfer list will not happen. At the first sign of it the Unions will object as its "taking work away from our members". We see this all the time be it the Luas, Dublin Bus etc. Outsourcing to a single entity does not work as they can dictate conditions (which is one of the reasons why 10% of Dublin Bus routes are now serviced by another bus company).

    The State can't manage projects (how often do we hear of cost overruns on capital projects for example).