Ban on evictions should be reintroduced for six months, says housing charity

Threshold calls for ban and view to potential extension based on Covid-19 restrictions

In its pre-Budget submission, the charity has also called for €20 million to be allocated to a rent arrears fund to help tenants in financial difficulty. Photograph: iStock

In its pre-Budget submission, the charity has also called for €20 million to be allocated to a rent arrears fund to help tenants in financial difficulty. Photograph: iStock

 

A ban on evictions should be reintroduced for at least six months with a view to a further six-month extension based on Covid-19 restrictions in place, the housing charity Threshold has said.

In its pre-Budget submission, the charity has also called for €20 million to be allocated to a rent arrears fund to help tenants in financial difficulty. It has recommended that 20 per cent of the homeless budget be allocated for homeless prevention, a reintroduction of the ban on temporary rent increases and the allocation of funding to hold a referendum on the right to housing.

The charity also wants flexibility introduced into the rent supplement and the housing assistance payment (HAP) scheme to be permanently retained and measures to avoid tenancy termination on grounds of sale.

Rental protections were introduced earlier this year including a ban on eviction notices and rent increases. However, these measures ended last month and were replaced by new rental laws.

Safety and security

The Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill, which came into effect last month, extends a ban on evictions until January for those unable to pay their rent because of the Covid-19 pandemic so long as they make a “self-declaration” to the Residential Tenancies Board.

For all other tenants in rental accommodation the Covid-19 ban on evictions and rent freezes ended and normal rules apply. Threshold said there is a need to extend the moratorium on evictions “for at least six months with a view to a further six-month extension based on the Covid-19 restrictive measures in place”.

“This is vital to ensuring that all people have a home where they can live safely and securely,” it said. There was a 23 per cent drop in family homelessness and a 21 per cent drop in child homelessness between March and July of this year, the charity said. “Unfortunately, there was little change for adults without children, with homeless rates remaining almost unchanged among this cohort,” it added. “This points to the dearth of suitable housing for single adults and couples without dependants.”

Concern

Aideen Hayden, chairperson of Threshold, said it is “concerned” about the long-term impact of the Covid-19 crisis on private renters. “The potential for long-term indebtedness amongst tenants is a real risk and may result in significant levels of evictions,” she said.

“Legislative measures introduced to protect those with rent arrears will have little impact without suitable debt measures and binding agreements to resolve that debt.

“There is a risk that without robust measures to resolve the debt these evictions will merely be delayed. We find ourselves at an unprecedented point in our social and economic history with the impacts of Covid-19 having far-reaching implications for all aspects of our lives, including the ways in which services are delivered and critical goods are accessed.

“This critical juncture poses huge challenges but also presents us with opportunities for taking stock and re-casting the development and delivery of key services, such as housing.”

Threshold has also called on the Government to provide the necessary resources for local authorities and approved housing bodies to build 75,000 homes over the next five years. It said a pilot scheme should be established to repurpose unused purpose-built student accommodation as housing for “key workers” in light of the “reduced need for student accommodation”.