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Press Release/Catherine Connolly 8th December 2015
City Council Tenants will be unable to purchase their home under Tenant Purchase Scheme and neither will private house owners be able to sell their house without having first paid their water charges under the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 from the 1st January 2016.
Cllr Catherine Connolly said it has come as an absolute shock to tenants of City Council Houses that they will not be able to purchase their homes without having paid any outstanding water charges.
In a Circular dated the 17th November 2015 from the Department of the Environment to Galway City Council, management in Housing were instructed said Cllr Connolly not to complete the sale of a dwelling house under a tenant purchase scheme until the tenant provides the City Council with a certificate from Irish Water confirming that any charge under section 21 of the Water Services Act 2013 has been paid. Moreover the legislation applies to all tenant purchase schemes including the new scheme due to come into force on the 1st January 2016.
Cllr Connolly says this is an unacceptable interference with a tenant’s rights and has never happened before in relation to any other bills outstanding to a utility company or indeed any other creditor. It is the same as saying to a tenant if you have not paid your phone bill or your ESB bill you cannot buy your house.
The relevant section 48 becomes operative on the 1st January 2016 which also provides that in the sale of any private house, unpaid water bills must be taken from the net proceeds of sale.
Really what is happening said Cllr Connolly is that tenants and private householders are being punished for taking a principled political stance .
Moreover said Cllr Connolly, the City Council /all local authorities and solicitors are being asked to play a policing role in this matter for Irish Water which is supposedly a completely separate entity like any other utility company.
The legislation in question said Cllr Connolly is an unprecedented interference with both tenants’ and private householders’ rights and signifies a most serious undermining of democracy.