Nicole Farrell with her children Nathan (8), Darcy (6) and Harper (2) Brady.
A house in Rathmullan Park that was allocated to a young woman who had spent eight years on the waiting list was in such a bad state of repair that she handed the keys back to Louth County Council after just three months.
When Nicole Farrell and her three children were offered a house in Rathmullen Park recently after spending eight years on the waiting list she was delighted thinking that this could be their forever home.
Nicole had seen the house on Louth County Council’s Choice Based Letting (CBL) website where the Council advertises available properties in a prospective tenant’s selected area of choice and she was delighted when it was offered to her.
The dream soon turned sour however because, unlike an auctioneer’s website which shows a tenant or purchaser photos of every room in the house or apartment, plus the garden if there is one, the CBL site shows just one image upon which people are expected to make their decision.
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There’s no prior viewing of the property, the first time a tenant sees inside is when they are given the front door keys and it’s already theirs.
"We couldn't believe the condition of the house” Nicole said. “There was mildew, dampness, condensation and mould everywhere, holes in the walls, tiles off the walls, electrical sockets broken, the list was endless.
They made lots of phone calls to the Council asking them to carry out repair work, but nobody came.
“My children ended up getting sick due to the dampness and mould” Nicole said.
“After three months of living in these terrible conditions, I made a tough decision of handing back the keys to the Council for the good of my health and that of my children and had to fight to get back on the housing list.
“I currently reside in the homeless shelter and am seeking private housing and returning as a HAP tenant" said a tearful Nicole. "It could be another eight or ten years before we get a Council house again.”
Independent Councillor Declan Power, who has raised this issue with the Council on several occasions, told Drogheda Life that while the CBL website is a great way of updating vacant properties from local authorities, it doesn't provide enough images for future tenants to make better judgement calls.
“When you opt for the house, your first viewing is when you get the keys. It's a pure gamble and treated almost like a 'Lucky dip' - great if you get a house with basic living standards and unlucky if you don't."
“While I appreciate the Council's efforts to house as many people as possible on the housing list, I have asked that these properties not be offered until essential maintenance is carried out and adequately snagged. Doing this will save much heartache as people seek their "Forever Home" he said.
"We know there is a shortage of housing, we know the country has a housing crisis but do not move tenants into a vacant property that is not fit for living in, that is not fit for purpose. It is a basic human right that people have a roof over their head, a place to hang their hat, a place to call home," said Cllr Power.
This article was written by Andy Spearman
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