Property owners threaten legal action over winter eviction ban

Cabinet approves ban on new evictions lasting until next March

File photo dated 22/01/08 of houses as more than a million struggling British families are spending at least a third of their income on housing costs, a think-tank has revealed today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday May 16, 2013. Work by the Resolution Foundation shows 1.3 million households on low to middle incomes are spending more than they can reasonably afford on mortgage payments, rent and maintenance costs - forgoing other essentials such as food to pay their bills. See PA story MONEY Housing. Photo credit should read: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA) is considering a legal challenge to the proposed short-term ban on evictions.

Its chairwoman Mary Conway described the ban as an attempt by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to “feel better” about the issue but she said it would not make much difference and would not avoid evictions this winter.

The Cabinet approved a ban on new evictions lasting until next March at its meeting today. The Government hopes to pass the legislation through the Oireachtas before the end of the month.

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.

Speaking on both Newstalk Breakfast and RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland on Tuesday morning, Ms Conway said the private rental sector was “over regulated and over taxed” which was why many landlords were leaving the sector as some were suffering great financial distress.

She said Mr O’Brien had told representative bodies on Monday that the Finance Bill would consider “something” for landlords. He had been “non-committal”, she said, when asked about the possibility of tax breaks.

Ms Conway said tax breaks would be “too little, too late”. The IPOA was “completely opposed” to the eviction ban which would not change the situation between now and March, she added.

It was “storing up the problem” as there remained a shortage of properties to rent, and she asked what would happen when the ban was lifted?

The situation for private landlords who were facing higher interest rates and rising inflation could not continue, she added. The Government had failed to provide more social housing in recent years and the private rental sector had “filled that void” - that was no longer possible, she said.

John Mark McCafferty of Threshold said there had been a doubling of the number of eviction notices issued in the last year, and alternatives were needed. “We can’t go on like this,” he said. Support services were “maxed out” and people were falling into homelessness. The eviction ban was “the least worst option”, he said.

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a reporter

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times