Opinion: They will do literally anything, except actually build houses.

This is an opinion piece, based on reading this news story.

The gist of it is, the Government is planning to allow council tenants to sublet rooms in their houses, and allowing them to earn up to €14,000 from such subletting tax free, in an attempt to alleviate the housing crisis.

This is not inherently a bad thing, I fully support this measure. As is, the state has no power to forcibly downsize a council tenants home, which isn't a bad thing - forcibly relocating families and breaking up communities is a stupid fucking policy that only a heartless prick would suggest.

I do take issue with it though, for a glaringly obvious reason, after reading the article.

This statement: "The idea is to incentivise people living in those homes, between 14,000 to 28,000 of those, to take up the Rent-a-Room scheme, open up their homes"

And this statement: "The Government hopes to add the equivalent of 28,000 homes across the country by allowing council tenants to rent out rooms in their houses".

The article seems to conflate a renting a room with a home. Which is... Some creative accountancy, and also entirely a load of bollocks.

However - in Ireland, under the current tenancy laws, subletting a room from someone is not the same as someone renting an apartment or a house.

If you are subletting a room in a property from an existing tenant of the property, you are not a tenant - you are what is called a "licensee" (in most cases, unless you are put on the lease, which won't be happening here).

A "licensee", in Irish tenancy law, has way less rights than an actual tenant, which has been highlighted by Threshold. The Citizens Information Page is extremely explicit on what rights you don't have if you are sharing a house with your landlord (who in this case is the council tenant you are subletting from). See the "renting a room" section.

As a licensee, there is no requirement for any real notice of termination, you do not have access to the Residential Tenancy Board's help with disputes, the tenancy doesn't need to be registered, you are not protected from discrimination, etc. You are effectively entirely at the mercy of the landlord.

It gets even worse! As a licensee, you are subject to whatever arbitrary restrictions your landlord decides to impose. Access curfews (eg: no entering/leaving between certain times), no guarantee of access to the kitchen, restrictions on overnight - or any - guests, etc.

If a dispute arises - you are recommended to go to Threshold, or maybe the Small Claims Court to recover a deposit, but you are realistically on your own.

Entirely unprotected.

So in order to try alleviate the housing crisis in Ireland, instead of properly engaging in any kind of actually ambitious state funded home building programme and reforming planning regulations, the Irish Government has decided they are instead going to try alleviate a symptom of the problem by offering up the absolute worst kind of tenancy possible to those in need of housing - tenancy with no rights.

To conclude, I've no problem with the scheme itself, and think it isn't terrible when viewed in isolation - but in the context of the Irish housing market, and Irish tenancy laws, it is not going to even remotely live up to its promises.