Only 475 of 300,000 registered tenants protected from eviction, Dáil told

Sinn Féin renews call for ban on rent hikes, evictions, while charities highlight ‘crisis’

Mary Lou McDonald said the Government’s scheme of renter protections had ‘failed’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Mary Lou McDonald said the Government’s scheme of renter protections had ‘failed’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Just 475 of 300,000 registered tenants in the State will be protected from eviction under rent-support provisions introduced by the Government, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has claimed.

Almost 4,000 rent arrears warnings and 1,100 eviction notices have been issued in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic she said, warning that State measures to protect renters are not working and thousands of tenants face eviction.

The Dublin Central TD renewed her call for Taoiseach Micheál Martin to reintroduce the blanket ban on rent increases and evictions until at least the end of this year.

Pointing to the rental protection scheme operated through the Residential Tenancies Board she said that only 475 people would benefit out of 300,000 registered tenants.

Housing advocacy agencies including Threshold had highlighted the crisis and the figures spoke for themselves, she said.

Speaking during Dáil leaders’ questions, Ms McDonald told the Taoiseach that the restricted protections introduced by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien are “simply not fit for purpose”, and she insisted that “your scheme has failed”.

But Mr Martin claimed Sinn Féin was only interested in exploiting housing problems for political gain. The issue was the availability of housing and increasing supply and Sinn Féin has no coherent medium-term housing policy to do that, he said.

Mr O’Brien was working proactively to protect renters through the legislation he introduced and the measures in place until July 12th are likely to be extended to the end of the year, Mr Martin added. He pointed out that family homelessness had dropped by 31 per cent which represented considerable progress.

He also told Ms McDonald that rent arrears notices and notices to quit were often not acted upon.

The Taoiseach pointed to the growing number of landlords leaving the market and said that 3,857 exited the rental market last year. “That’s a significant contraction,” he said adding that Ms McDonald’s proposals for rent freezes and eviction bans could make things worse with more landlords leaving the market.

The Taoiseach told the Sinn Féin leader that the legal advice to Government was that rent freezes would be illegal.

“We will do everything we can to protect tenants,” the Taoiseach insisted, adding that the real remedy for the housing problem is an increase in supply.