Over half the offers for council houses rejected in one part of the county were due to the applicants having a problem with the location or neighbours.
The figure emerged as councillors in the Stranorlar electoral area urged tenants to report anti-social behaviour. The electoral area has 52 council houses vacant, an increase of almost 50 per cent compared to the end of 2010.
Figures presented to the Stranorlar electoral area committee this week show that 37 offers made last year were not accepted while 28 were taken up. Of those not accepted there were 19 houses involved and in 21 cases, the reason for refusal was described as ‘problem with location / neighbours’.
Of the 49 houses vacant in the first week of January, 23 require major repairs to improve their Building Energy Rating.
The council spent a total of €493,693.51 on improvement works last year with the local authority’s own contribution coming to over €49,000.
Councillors have blamed the high number of vacant houses on problems with anti-social behaviour and competition provided by the private sector and the HSE.
Chair of the electoral area committee, Labour councillor Frank McBrearty, said the people who are frightened by anti-social behaviour “should not be frightened and should go to the authorities about issues that need to be dealt with by the authorities”.
He said the council is losing tenants because there are landlords and developers who are happy to get social welfare cheques for rent allowance.
Fine Gael councillor Martin Harley said he would like to see residents taking a more active role in reporting anti-social behaviour to the housing authority and gardaí. “I don’t want them to feel they are being intimidated into not reporting it. We have to send out the message today that we are not going to accept this.”
Finna Fáil councillor Patrick McGowan said the council will have to consider whether its rents are too high. “We now have cases that HSE will offer you a better house and a cheaper house and that is very serious.”