Housing charity intervened in 100 attempted illegal evictions during Covid-19

Nearly 300 tenants served notices of termination during Covid-19 eviction moratorium

Housing charity Threshold has said it intervened in more than 100 attempted illegal evictions of tenants during the coronavirus pandemic, despite a legal moratorium on evictions.

The organisation provided assistance to tenants in nearly 300 cases where they had received an invalid notice of termination between March and August. In some cases tenants had returned home to find the locks changed, with their belongings still inside the property.

The charity said these figures were likely “just a fraction” of the tenants who were threatened with homelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic this year.

During the recent nationwide lockdown the tenants’ rights charity said it intervened in 17 illegal or threatened evictions, and advised tenants on 69 invalid notices of termination. In a number of cases Threshold had been able to stop the evictions and get tenants reinstated in their homes.

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Launching its annual report for 2019, Threshold said its staff had answered on average 267 calls a day last year.

The organisation represented 343 households at the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), who settle disputes between tenants and landlords. In total Threshold carried out 82,357 actions on behalf of renters in 2019, and said it prevented 8,351 households from becoming homeless.

About 35 per cent of renters Threshold assisted last year had received an eviction notice, and in nearly half of these cases this was due to the landlord intending to sell the property.

Three quarters of the tenants who sought help were aged between 25 and 44, and 60 per cent were in employment. Only one in ten people seeking the charity’s help last year were under the age of 25.

Aideen Hayden, chairwoman of Threshold, said this showed "that the profile of renters in Ireland is changing."

Speaking at the virtual launch of the annual report, Ms Hayden said “renting is no longer just a transitional tenure for students and young people, before they buy their own home or secure social housing.”

As people over 35 were more likely to rent for life, the State would be faced with a “housing affordability crisis” when this cohort began to retire, due to the lack of long-term affordable rental options, Ms Hayden said.

“Where it is an option, under-25s may still be living at home with their parents as they cannot afford to rent,” she said.

“We can also see a growing cohort of people without children in the private rented sector. These may all be indicators of delayed independence and family formation as renting is not a secure or reliable housing option,” she said.

Case study: “I have been paying a huge rent and tolerating what I consider to be dangerous conditions”

Noirin is a tenant in her 50s who has been renting since she lost her home in the aftermath of the financial crash. Over the last five years she had reported numerous problems requiring repairs to her landlord’s agent, without success.

Following contact with Threshold she was advised of her rights as a tenant, a number of which she had been unaware of.

“I wrongly believed that I had to put up with many issues as rentals are so scarce. I have been paying a huge rent of €1,200 per month and tolerating what I consider to be dangerous conditions – below the minimum standards – in an effort to simply keep a roof over my head,” she said.

“This will be the first Christmas in five years, that I will have a safe, working cooker and functioning heaters in the bathroom and bedroom,” she said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times