Ban on new evictions lasting until March set to be approved

Eviction ban will not extend to tenants who refuse to pay rent or misuse a property

The Cabinet is expected to approve a ban on new evictions lasting until next March when it meets this morning despite misgivings about the measure among some in Fine Gael.

Once Ministers give the go ahead, the Government will introduce legislation in the Oireachtas, which it aims to pass before the end of this month.

However, it is expected that the eviction ban will not extend to tenants who refuse to pay rent or misuse a property and that existing notices to quit will still be enforceable.

Sources with knowledge of discussions in Government said the advice of the Attorney General was that a complete ban, or an indefinite halt to evictions, would be open to a successful legal challenge.


In addition, there would be little support from Fine Gael for such a policy. Some senior party figures said privately that they had strong misgivings about an eviction ban and wondered about the political impact of having to reverse the measure next April.

However, sources said they could not be seen to block the move at this stage, with some complaining that the party has been “bounced” into the move by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

“We haven’t teased this through,” said one party figure. “We’re not ideologically opposed to this. Fine Gael introduced an eviction ban during Covid. But there is a lot of unease about this.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was cautious about the proposal when questioned by journalists in Dublin yesterday. He said the “pros and cons” of a winter moratorium on evictions would be weighed up by the Government in advance of a decision being taken on the matter.

The Fine Gael leader said there was an “obvious advantage” and it would be “a good thing” that people would not lose their homes over the winter. But he added: “We have to balance that against the possibility that it might make more landlords sell up or sell more quickly, in which case there’ll be less properties available in the long term.”

There is significant concern across Government about landlords exiting the market, which is resulting in tenants being evicted to allow new owners to take vacant possession of properties. There are also fears that announcing the move could trigger a rash of notices to quit in the coming days before the legislation is enacted.

But a ban on evictions has been repeatedly demanded by Opposition parties, with Sinn Féin, Labour and the Social Democrats all calling for the move in recent days.

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, predicted that the official numbers of those in homelessness would soon break 11,000 and said that any evictions ban must be accompanied “with a package of measures to accelerate and increase the delivery of public housing to meet social and affordable housing need”.

Labour said the Government must implement a “homelessness action plan” along with the move, and prepare adequately for the lifting of the ban next year.

Ministers are also likely to be briefed on plans for the concrete block levy due to be contained in the Finance Bill, which is due to be published on Thursday. Government sources said the measure would definitely form part of the Bill — despite pressure from some backbenchers to have the measure abandoned — but that its commencement would likely be delayed.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien wrote to Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe last week to relay the concerns of Fianna Fáil members about the measure, which has been the subject of fierce lobbying by TDs and the building industry, who say it will result in higher prices for homebuyers and those seeking to build their own homes at a time of high inflation.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times