Water bill amendments will bring ‘clarity’, says Minister

Paudie Coffey fails to confirm whether tenants face eviction if they do not pay water bill

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment Paudie Coffey. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment Paudie Coffey. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Irish Water provisions, which ensure a house cannot be sold until charges are paid, have been introduced to bring “clarity and certainty for landlords and tenants”, according to a Minister of State Paudie Coffey.

The Minister of State at the Department of the Environment described claims that tenants who don’t pay their Irish Water bills could face eviction as “scaremongering” on the part of the opposition.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Coffey said the amendments to the bill had been introduced to create a method of enforcement “to ensure that those who are not compliant and are refusing to pay, that they do pay”.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has introduced 33 pages of amendments to the Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill.

It contains a number of changes, including the setting up of a database for the water conservation grant and provisions to ensure a house can’t be sold until the charges are paid. The Bill also obliges local authority tenants to pay their water charges.

Mr Coffey failed to confirm whether tenants would be evicted if they did not pay their bill, saying payment was “a matter for the landlord and tenant as is the case in any contract situation for tenancy”.

Asked if the landlord would have to pay if the tenant failed to do so, he said the owner of the property would be responsible for discharging any unpaid bills before selling the home.

“We want to see people compliant with the law and we don’t want to see people ending up in trouble and that’s why we’re making measures that we feel are fair and bring certainty to the whole area.”

Mr Coffey said users who applied for the Water Conservation Grant worth €100 before June 30th could expect to receive the money “before the end of this year”.

He also said an independent test due to be carried out by Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, was imminent and would take place in the “next few weeks or possibly months at the latest”.

Mr Coffey said he was unaware of how many people had actually paid their water bill so far, adding that it was a matter for Irish Water to respond to.

“I understand there’s a board meeting due to happen next week... and I would encourage them to publish the payment figures then.

People before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said earlier this week the amendments to the bill were “desperate, devious and discriminatory”and were aimed at undermining the national movement against water charges.