‘Vast majority’ of landlords selling up are genuine, says homelessness chief

‘Bring in a moratorium which says you can sell your property but you have to leave the tenant in place’

Landlord looking to sell must enter into a contract for sale within nine months of the termination of the tenancy. If they do not, the property must be re-let to a former tenant.File Photo: Yui Mok/PA

Landlord looking to sell must enter into a contract for sale within nine months of the termination of the tenancy. If they do not, the property must be re-let to a former tenant.File Photo: Yui Mok/PA

 

The vast majority of landlords evicting tenants on the basis they are selling their properties are genuine, one of the country’s leading homelessness charities has said.

Mike Allen, director of advocacy of Focus Ireland, suggested only a small minority of rental property-owners are “fraudulently” evicting families so they can push up rents for new tenants.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has announced a number of new measures to protect tenants, including the requirement for a landlord looking to sell must enter into a contract for sale within nine months of the termination of the tenancy.

If they do not, the property must be re-let to a former tenant.

But Mr Allen said most landlords selling are genuine and the measures don’t go far enough to protect 25 families being evicted from privately-rented homes every month.

“About 75 of every the 100 families that become homeless every month are in the private rented sector,” he said.

“A third of those are being evicted are because the landlord is selling up. While the minster has done a number of things to create greater penalties for landlords who are doing that, if you like, fraudulently – they are not actually selling , they are just trying to get rid of the tenants so they can put up the rent – in our experience the vast majority of cases where families are being evicted for this reason, it is, in fact, because the landlord is selling up.”

Mr Allen said the lack of protection for tenants in properties being genuinely sold on was causing “huge damage to families, and children and single people”.

While landlords have a right to sell their property, he suggested tenants should be allowed to stay on under new owners, at least until the housing crisis is resolved.

“What is happening at the moment is a significant number of landlords, either from pressure from their lending institutions – that seems to be a huge part of it – or maybe for their own reasons and are deciding at this moment to leave the private rental market and that needs to be managed,” he told RTÉ Radio.

“What we are saying, and I think all the homeless organisations are saying, is bring in a moratorium for a couple of years which says you can sell your property but you have to leave the tenant in place.

“We believe on balance that is in the public interest and should be constitutional.”