Evictions from rental properties to resume amid homelessness fears

Opposition fears rise in homelessness as Government defends tenant supports

Property owners responded to the lifting of the eviction ban saying it is ‘essential’ that the rental market is allowed to return to ‘some normality’. Photograph: iStock

Property owners responded to the lifting of the eviction ban saying it is ‘essential’ that the rental market is allowed to return to ‘some normality’. Photograph: iStock

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Evictions of people from rental accommodation can resume from Friday as a grace period following last week’s lifting of the ban ends.

Housing charity Threshold and Opposition politicians raised fears that homelessness will rise as a result but the Government defended remaining measures aimed at protecting tenants.

Meanwhile, property owners responded to the lifting of the eviction ban saying it is “essential” that the rental market is allowed to return to “some normality”.

The ban on evictions was linked to the 5km Covid-19 travel restriction. This was lifted to allow county-wide travel on Monday, April 12th and a 10-day grace period on evictions expires on Friday.

Protection from eviction remains in place for people in rent arrears who declare to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) they are in receipt of financial support from the State to help with loss of earnings caused by Covid-19.

Figures provided by the RTB show 426 people have made such declarations between August 2020 and March this year.

Inadequate protections

Threshold chief executive John-Mark McCafferty pointed to the numbers who have availed of the protection as he argued that the remaining protections for tenants are inadequate.

He said his organisation had more than 1,000 notice-of-termination cases on its system carried over from last year and the housing charity now anticipates a significant increase in requests for help from people facing eviction.

Mr McCafferty also said travel restrictions are still in place, making finding alternative accommodation difficult and pointed out that full-scale viewings of accommodation are not currently allowed.

He said the ban had made “significant inroads” in reducing the flow of families into homelessness and his organisation had advocated for it to stay in place until the end of September.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin predicted a “slow and steady” increase in the number of families becoming homeless and seeking emergency accommodation. He claimed that just about 400 out of 200,000 private renters will continue to be protected from eviction and accused Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien of “stripping renters of protection”.

A spokesman for Mr O’Brien said the Minister has introduced four Bills in relation to rental protection in less than eight months.

Rent freeze

He said Mr Ó Broin is “incorrect” to suggest the remaining rental protections will only cover about 400 renters saying the targeted protections – which also include a rent freeze –that remain in place until July 12th “will apply to all those who are eligible and seek them”.

“Thankfully only a small number of tenants will directly need this safety net because the other State financial supports are working,” he added.

Separately, Margaret McCormick from the Irish Property Owners Association said: “It’s essential that the rental market is allowed to return to some normality.

“There’s been nine months of paused periods and it’s causing certain difficulties. It’s preventing sales going through and preventing families being able to return to their homes.”

Ms McCormick said those who had fallen into difficulty due to Covid-19 have been able to avail of Government subsidies.

“But within the market [...] there are people who may not be affected by Covid at all,[...] who would have been in arrears and the protection has protected them,” she added.

She said while there are arrears, “the vast majority of tenancies are fine”.