An 85-year-old man has said he was "devastated" when he was given notice to leave his rented home that he shares with his wife.

Tom and Maria Browne have been renting a house in Delvin, Co Westmeath for 11 years and will have to leave by the end of September.

Tom served in the Defence Forces for 32 years, completing several tours of duty in Congo, Lebanon and Cyprus.

He has suffered two strokes in the past, the most recent one in 2020.

Mr Browne said that between his army pension and their State pensions, the couple have been told their income is over the threshold to receive the Housing Assistance Payment or for social housing.

"A few weeks ago we got notice to quit, they gave us until September, which was reasonable I suppose," he said.

Tom says the owner of the property gave them plenty of notice and there is no issue in that regard.

"We were devastated because we knew there was nothing available at the moment, at the present. And we looked around and there was still nothing," he said.

However, he says he is optimistic they will be able to find a new place to live, and that the local community are keeping an eye out for any suitable properties for them.

He said that they have viewed a number of properties, including one that was €3,000 per month, which he said was "way out of his league".

On the ending of the eviction ban, he said "the situation is crazy because there's a lot more people going to be evicted and there is no houses available, there is no accommodation available anywhere".

'Fighting a losing battle'

But Tom said he could see both sides of the debate.

"If it was extended, would it make any difference in nine months' time, or the end of the year? How are they going to build houses in that length of time?", he said.

Tom described their situation as "fighting a losing battle", as available accommodation is either "too pricey or the location is bad".

He also said he was worried he wouldn’t be able to get a new GP in a new location if they had to move away from this area, and he’s also close to the hospital.

He asked for the help of the county council or the Government.

"With things going the way they are, it’s unlikely there’s going to be many houses available. So, you need the support of the council or the government," he said.

"If I had to leave here in September, where am I going to go if I don’t get a place? I’ll have to walk out, turn the key behind me and where am I going to go?", he said.

Tom and Maria’s case was raised in the Dáil earlier this week by Meath West TD Johnny Guirke.

"You’d be very worried for the people facing eviction today. We were asking the Government to extend it to next January. It would give them another nine months to put things in place, an emergency housing situation, and I think if they done that, we would be in a lot better position.

"They tell you every day we’re turning the corner, but if we’re turning the corner, another nine months would have bought them enough time to make a difference for people like Tom and Maria," he said.

He said Tom and Maria do not qualify for the county council social housing list and HAP, but they do qualify for social and affordable housing. However, he said there is nothing available around this area.