Pensioners interested in renting rooms to students should not be discouraged by the possibility of losing their medical card, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Maria Byrne has highlighted that Government approved the extension of the Rent a Room income disregard for medical card holders and social welfare recipients. Changes approved also allow local authority tenants to access the scheme.
“I raised this issue before in the context of a number of queries from pensioners who were willing to rent a room to a student, but were discouraged from doing so, for fear the income earned from the rented room would push them outside the medical card income threshold.
“Recognising the opportunities for both prospective renters and homeowners alike, Government has extended the income disregard, so those in receipt of social welfare payments and medical holders need not worry.
“The weekly gross medical card income threshold was increased in 2020 for those aged 70 and over and is currently €550 per week for a single person and €1,050 for a couple. This was a positive development in relation to healthcare for the elderly, and I’m pleased that they also have the choice to earn additional income from an extra room in their house without being penalised.
“As leaving cert examinations draw to a close, we are hearing more about the difficulty students face in sourcing accommodation. Renting ‘digs’ in a household was traditionally a safe and economical way for students to attend college in towns and cities away from their home. The Rent a Room scheme incentivises both parties to consider this option.
“I want to assure pensioners and social welfare recipients that renting a room is a viable option for them to pursue if they wish – with no penalties”