Reverse eviction ban’s end amid serious lack of options for tenants, Simon Communities urge

‘Stark’ numbers show scale of problem in Locked Out report

There were 672 properties for rent at any price within 16 areas over three days surveyed in March, an 11 per cent decrease from the 757 available in its equivalent December survey

Homeless charity the Simon Communities of Ireland has called on the Government to reverse its move to lift the eviction ban from the end of this month, with its executive director saying it is “never too late to reverse a bad decision”.

Wayne Stanley told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland that the Government’s arguments for lifting the moratorium on the eviction ban “don’t hold water” as the charity revealed its latest study into the options available for at-risk tenants.

Just 29 rental properties were available within the limits of the Housing Assistance Payment (Hap) scheme in March, according to new research.

The Simon Communities of Ireland, which released the findings on Thursday, said it now means the private rental market is no longer an option for those being supported out of homelessness.


Its quarterly Locked Out of the Market report, examining the state of rental options with a focus on Hap tenancies, found no properties available within a standard Hap rate across the four household types.

“They said that it was landlords. Some landlords were being made homeless. There have actually been fewer of those small number of cases where that was true - a carve out could have been put in place,” Stanley said.

He added: “I’ve worked in homeless services since 2005, and up until two or three years ago, if somebody was able to get into employment, that was an almost immediate route out of homelessness. They might be there for another week or two while they put together a deposit.

“And if they had access to their children and we could advocate with that and back in the day with rent supplement, we could advocate that they should have overnight access and could get an increased rent supplement. That was another direct route out of homelessness. It really was single people who struggled the most.

“The primary route out of homelessness has for a long time been the private rental market and utilising payments like the housing assistance payment hub that we had that we referred to in this report.”

Describing the situation as a “national crisis”, he said that options for those reliant on Hap have “gradually been falling away”.

There were 672 properties for rent at any price within 16 areas over three days surveyed in March, an 11 per cent decrease from the 757 available in its equivalent December survey.

It also identified the lowest proportion of properties within Hap rates at 4.3 per cent of the total, compared to 10.8 per cent in the same month last year.

“[The] report found no properties at the standard rate of Hap and just 29 properties within discretionary Hap rates; the lowest ever number found since this research series began in 2015,” said executive director Wayne Stanley.

“In the context of the lifting of the [eviction] moratorium, these are very stark numbers. In the real world, when we look at these numbers through the lens of the people we support out of homelessness, the private rental market is no longer an option.”

Other key findings of the series update found 472 properties (70 per cent of overall availability) were located within three Dublin areas while Portlaoise had the lowest number at just three.

Limerick city centre and its surrounding suburbs had four properties available in each. There was also a decrease in availability found in 12 of the 16 study areas, excluding only Athlone, Galway City Suburbs, Sligo Town, and Portlaoise.

However, no Hap eligible properties were available in any household category within standard or discretionary limits in 11 of the 16 areas.

Mr Stanley welcomed a number of recent Government initiatives, including a direction to local authorities to target property acquisitions where Hap tenants are being evicted, but said such approaches take time.

“The lifting of the moratorium before some of the potential in these schemes has delivered is beyond disappointing in the abstract, but almost beyond belief in the context of the thousands of notices of terminations coming in April, as shown by the latest Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) reports,” he said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times