- 06 Mar 23
With the current eviction ban set to expire at the end of the month, debate continues over whether to extend the ban with additional amendments, among other legislative changes.
As the end of the eviction ban approaches, Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan is calling for the ban’s extension or for the implementation of an amended eviction ban designed to encourage landlords to stay in the housing market.
Despite the enactment of the current eviction ban last October, the nation’s homelessness figures have continued to rise. As of January 2023, 11,754 people were using emergency accommodations, according to the Department of Housing.
The three coalition party leaders are set to meet with Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien later today to discuss extending the ban. Cabinet will further deliberate on the issue tomorrow with the advice of Attorney General Rossa Fanning.
“As we move into the spring and summer, we are already dealing with less hotel rooms. We are already under pressure from people fleeing the war in Ukraine,” Hourigan said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Monday. “I’m not sure a full-scale lifting of the ban is an incredibly good idea right now, and certainly it will see a jump in homelessness figures and further pressure on services, which I have to say right now are already under a huge amount of pressure,” she said.
Hourigan said there is much common ground when it comes to the rights of landlords and tenants, and is hopeful legislation can be passed that mitigates no-fault evictions while still keeping landlords in the housing market.
“What I’m proposing is that either we bring in an amended eviction ban, which would allow for some exceptions in the case of, for example, people coming from abroad, or we simply extend it for a certain number of months, but then really take action on that tenant issue, on that tenure issue, on that no-fault eviction issue, on the issue of sale.”
Hourigan highlighted instances when tenants were evicted due to the property being sold or refurbished, only for those changes to not have taken place. Once the space is back on the market, she said, tenants often do not get their right of first refusal. In response, Hourigan proposed enacting legislation that encourages landlords to keep tenants in place while they sell their property in addition to providing favourable tax rates to landlords who offer security of tenure.
She also addressed the concern of landlords who live abroad and want to repossess their property upon returning to Ireland.
“I think it’s reasonable that in some cases small-scale landlords should be allowed to take back their property and certainly I take those concerns really seriously,” she said.
“I’m very aware that often the people who come into my clinic have landlords who are at the lower end of the scale insofar as the way they’re behaving with the RTB, the way they’re behaving in terms of evictions, and most landlords want to do the right thing and we do need to make a space in the sector that allows good landlords to operate in a way that is useful for them, and also allows the most tenants to have the most amount of rights.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin, however, have raised concerns about extending the ban on evictions. Varadkar pointed to the experiences of landlords who could not access their own homes after returning from abroad and Martin speculated that extending the ban could hurt the housing supply due to a large number of landlords opting to leave the market.
Despite these concerns, other Green Party leaders are calling for an extension of the eviction ban. Lourda Scott, Green Party councillor for Greystones, said in a statement: “In every local area, we’re expecting a tsunami of evictions as a given if the ban isn’t extended. That’s an indication of a very broken housing system. The Government must propose how to counter that, including an acceleration of the Housing for All programme.”
Just Transition Greens call for Extension of the Eviction Ban. The government need to rapidly increase the speed of delivery on social and affordable housing.
Our press release is available here: https://t.co/ANRJL9yTZx pic.twitter.com/IAKBYJYblj
— Just Transition Greens (@JTG_ie) March 5, 2023
Echoing the statements of Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly, Hourigan said that substantial policy changes must be made to adequately address the issues of tenant’s rights and homelessness. “The eviction ban is like first aid for a patient because we’re in the middle of a crisis. But we do need the radical surgery of policy change going forward.”
In a statement of her own, Hourigan concluded: “I would implore members of the Cabinet to listen to the public and Green Party members on this issue and to protect people who are among the most vulnerable in society.”