There is a “fear” among landlords that the Government’s temporary ban on evictions will be extended beyond next March, leaving landlords seeking to sell properties trapped in the rental market, a tenancy management agency has said.
The moratorium on evictions, announced on Tuesday, is expected to come into effect in November and last until March 31st.
Landlords will still be able to evict in the case of non-payment of rent, anti-social behaviour or a premises being used for a purpose for which it is not intended.
When the ban ends there will be a “sliding scale” on the return of evictions depending on the length of the tenancy agreement to prevent a surge of evictions at the same time next spring.
While the eviction ban has been welcomed by housing and homeless charities, the Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA) has said it would consider a legal challenge against the “unfair” policy.
In a statement the landlord representative association said it would “fully scrutinise” the details of the eviction ban when they were released. “Following fulsome consideration of the ramifications of this decision, we will then share our proposed course of action, which will be designed to protect our position.”
The lobby group described the policy as an “extremely prejudicial move against our rights and interests as small landlords”.
Richard O’Sullivan, director with tenancy management agency Christies PMP, said there was significant “fear” among landlords that the ban would be extended after next March. “Nobody trusts the Government. They are worried about what it might extend into. It will force an awful lot more landlords out as soon as they can for fear of what else will come next.”
Mr O’Sullivan said the rental market had already been “haemorrhaging” smaller landlords who were selling their rental properties as house prices were currently high.
Latest figures from the Residential Tenancies Board, which regulates the rental market, show the proportion of landlords serving eviction notices to sell properties had shot up over the last three years. In the second quarter of this year some 1,011 landlords served eviction notices to tenants because they wanted to sell the property. This compared to 300 landlords who served notices to quit as they or a family member wanted to move into the home, according to RTB figures.
The Peter McVerry Trust said it strongly welcomed the winter eviction ban, which it said would “keep vulnerable tenants in their homes during the coldest months of the year”.
“We recognise the vital role that landlords play and want to highlight the importance of addressing tax reforms to ensure that private landlords do not continue to exit the market,” the homeless charity said. It added that the ban had to be followed with other actions to make sure it did not postpone the problem until next spring.
John-Mark McCafferty, chief executive of tenants’ right charity Threshold, said the temporary stopgap was necessary given increased numbers being evicted in recent months.
Mr McCafferty said while the ban would not protect tenants who wilfully did not pay rent, the cost-of-living crisis would likely push some people into rent arrears over the coming months. Extra supports should be put in place to help those tenants over the winter.
Simon Communities of Ireland said the ban was necessary given the “unprecedented levels of homelessness” at present. Wayne Stanley, the homeless charity’s head of policy, said without the moratorium “too many families would have fallen into homelessness and perhaps had to face a situation of having to sleep rough”.