Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has called on the Wicklow County Manager Eddie Sheehy to give guarantees that no council tenants will face eviction if they go in rent arrears due to non payed water charges being added to council tenants rents. This follows confirmation from the County Manager that under new legislation the council may become debit collectors for Irish Water.
Speaking after raising the issue at Mondays council meeting Councillor Brady said "At Mondays council meeting I raised the issue of Wicklow County Council becoming a debit collector for Irish Water, collecting any unpaid water charges from its 4,301 tenants. I have a real concern that struggling tenants may have any unpaid charges added to their rents, possibly pushing them into arrears leading to possible evictions".
Cllr Brady continued "Irish water have said that where a customer goes into arrears for more than 12 months and a late payment has accrued they will advise local authorities that by law they must recover the outstanding amount over a 12-month period. This means that Wicklow County Council will effectively become a debit collector for Irish Water. In Wicklow there are 4,301 council tenants and many aren't in a position to pay water charges and due to their circumstances may already be in arrears with their rent".
Cllr Brady went onto say "Any attempt to add unpaid watercharges to tenants rents will only compound difficulties many are facing and could put their tenancy in jeopardy by going deeper into arrears. At the meeting the County Manager confirmed that these powers have been extended to Irish Water but no further information had been forthcoming".
Cllr Brady concluded "I told the County Manager that it would be totally wrong for Wicklow County Council to do the dirty work for Irish Water by becoming their debit collector. Local authorities should have no role in this issue and Eddie Sheehy must not let the council get embroiled in this that will ultimately damage the relationship between the council and tenants. He must give assurances now to all 4,301 householders in Wicklow who are tenants of the council that they will not face eviction due to these measures. The Sinn Fein team on the council in Wicklow will fight this all the way to stop Wicklow County Council being used by the Government and Irish Water for their dirty work".