Landlords who are renting houses belonging to elderly family members in nursing homes to students off-the-books could be hiding the undocumented income to increase government subsidies.
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme provides financial support to people who need long-term nursing home care.
The HSE scheme, also called ‘Fair Deal’, sees families with elderly members who wish to be put into a nursing home means-tested in order to see how much the family can afford to pay.
Under the initiative, the family make a contribution which they can sustain towards the cost of nursing home care and the State pays the balance.
In turn, students may be able to avail of below-market rental prices but may also be subject to poor living conditions, as well as having no protection from a signed contract.
One UCD student, who does not wish to be named, has been a tenant in this situation on two separate times over the past two years and says that families are conning the Scheme and the Government by not registering this additional income.
He said he was lucky in his first year with the quality of conditions and having a caring landlord so he did not think to question, but this year he has had a less-favourable experience.
He said: “The first year, the landlord openly acknowledged that it was for Fair Deal reasons that they were off the books. This year, it’s a bit more spurious, the landlord says his son owns the house but the lady’s post still arrives here.”
“I was under the impression that our current previous owner died but I then recently found out she’s in a home so I strongly believe it’s the same situation here. All rent is cash in hand again but he became very reluctant when I asked for a rent receipt recently.”
The student acknowledges that he is still living in above-average circumstances to others living in Dublin so he won’t be kicking up much of a fuss anytime soon, but he worries others could be at risk.
Image: Clara Hickey