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More than 360 people served eviction notices after ban lifted

Some 787 tenants served eviction notices during Covid-19 pandemic, RTB figures show

Ferdinand Onwumere was evicted from a property in Dublin last December. Photograph: Laura Hutton

More than 360 people were served eviction notices in the two months after the Government lifted a blanket ban on removing tenants last August, figures from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) show.

The number of eviction notices served increased significantly in the second half of last year after emergency protections for renters introduced due to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic were lifted. Some 787 people were issued eviction notices by landlords between March and the end of September.

The board, which adjudicates on disputes between tenants and landlords, also saw a small increase in reports of illegal evictions from July onwards.

The board dealt with 84 cases where tenants claimed they had been unlawfully evicted in the first three months last year. Between April and June, a total of 93 disputes were filed over illegal evictions.

Between July and September, the board dealt with 117 illegal eviction cases, according to figures provided to The Irish Times. The figures for the final quarter of last year were not yet available.

Emergency eviction ban

A further 193 cases lodged with the board involved tenants challenging the validity of eviction notices during the same period.

Landlords are required to inform the board when they serve a tenant an eviction notice, and have 28 days to notify the regulator of the eviction following the end of a tenancy.

The Government introduced an emergency ban on evictions and a freeze on rent increases during the first wave of the virus in late March. The moratorium expired at the start of last August, despite calls from Opposition politicians this would lead to a wave of evictions during the pandemic.

A more limited moratorium for renters in financial trouble was extended until this April. A Department of Housing spokesman said 348 eligible tenants had applied for this protection by the end of last year.

The blanket ban on evictions was reintroduced in late December as the country entered another Level 5 lockdown and remains in place while 5km movement restrictions apply.

The board was informed of 53 notices of termination being sent to tenants last April and 34 in May. It received 44 notices of eviction in June and 46 in July.

The number of eviction notices served to tenants increased sharply to 170 in August, after the moratorium on evictions expired. The figure increased again in September to 197.

In the first three quarters of last year, the board dealt with 1,192 disputes related to rent arrears or tenants remaining in a property after an eviction notice.

It dealt with 1,037 cases where landlords retained deposits after a tenancy ended, and 769 cases involving breaches of landlord obligations.

‘Unceremonious’ eviction

Ferdinand Onwumere (48) had been renting a flat in Phibsborough, Dublin 7, for four years and was evicted three days before Christmas.

Mr Onwumere, originally from Nigeria, said he returned to the property on December 22nd to find his landlord and a number of other individuals there, who denied him entry.

“I had my money, my stuff all in the house,” he told The Irish Times. “They didn’t serve any sort of eviction notice to me.”

Left without accommodation in the middle of a pandemic, Mr Onwumere said he slept in a hospital emergency department that night.

“It was so cold, I didn’t have anywhere to go, I didn’t even have a good jacket,” he said.

“The next day I called the RTB, I started talking with them and I lodged a complaint . . . My passport and my laptop and other belongings were left in Phibsborough Garda station.”

Mr Onwumere said he was previously involved in a dispute with his landlord that came before the RTB, which found in his favour.

“I already went to the RTB on one occasion when they gave me a notice to leave and the RTB reinstated me in the property, that was about two years ago,” he said.

His life since the “unceremonious” eviction has been “one month of hell”, he said. He has been able to sleep in a friend’s home in the city centre during the evenings.

Without a home on Christmas Day, he took to walking around the city streets.

“It was my worst Christmas ever. I was walking around during the day, and then I stayed in my friend’s home that evening,” he said.

Tenants’ rights charity Threshold, which is supporting Mr Onwumere, said it received 78 calls to its helpline during Christmas week, a quarter of which related to tenancy terminations.

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More than 360 people served eviction notices after ban lifted

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