The status of the Government’s current ban on evictions is being kept under “very close review”, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has said, amid calls from housing campaigners to extend the moratorium further.
The moratorium on evictions is currently to remain in place until April 1st, when it will then be phased out in a staggered process until June. However, housing and homeless charities have called for the Government to extend the ban as latest figures show 11,632 people were homeless last month.
Speaking on Sunday, Mr O’Brien said the number of people and families who were relying on emergency accommodation was “stark”. The Government had already brought in “extraordinary measures” to address the problem, but no decisions had been taken in relation to extending the eviction ban, Mr O’Brien said.
“Any measures that I bring forward have to be legal and, in consultation with the Attorney General’s office, we’re keeping this under very, very close review,” he told RTÉ Radio 1’s This Week. Any proposals with regard to changes to it or extensions will be brought to Cabinet at the appropriate time, and that would be done in consultation with the Attorney General.”
[ ‘I’m tired and afraid I will die’: Asylum seeker without accommodation is left to sleep on streets ]
He said the Government had to try to avoid taking decisions which had “unintended consequences”, such as a further “flight” of private landlords leaving the rental market. There had been a “significant amount” of landlords leaving the market since 2016, leaving a “gap” that had to be filled.
Protections from evictions would “continue for most” until the middle of June, he added.
The Minister said he hoped that the numbers who were homeless would fall this year, and there was some indication the increase in recent months was “levelling off”. There had been a small reduction in the number of families presenting as homeless in the latest Department of Housing figures, Mr O’Brien said.
“We’ve delivered affordable homes for people to purchase and affordable homes for people to rent in cost-rental that didn’t exist before. The plan is starting to take hold, there are still many challenges and difficulties out there.”
There had been “difficulties of late” accommodating asylum seekers, but the State was doing “everything we can” to provide shelter to people.
Over the last week 81 asylum seekers could not be provided with accommodation after arriving in the country, with officials prioritising scare space for women and children. Mr O’Brien said the numbers of asylum seekers left sleeping rough were “very small” but “not what we like to see”.