Where is the plan to tackle winter homelessness?
Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan has demanded government produce the AG advice on the emergency eviction ban by the end of this week.
Without an emergency eviction ban and a time-limited rent freeze, Senator Moynihan said homelessness will continue to rise.
Senator Moynihan said:
“It’s the middle of October now, almost a month after the budget, yet there has been no certainty for renters on their status for the winter. Labour has consistently called for an emergency eviction ban, as was implemented during the pandemic, as well as a time-limited rent freeze.
“We need to get real about how Ireland has changed. As Threshold’s report shows, where one in 10 households in the 1990s lived in rented homes, now, one in five households are renting. However the increase in numbers of people renting has not been reflected in terms of the quantity and quality of accommodation, nor has the government taken pause to reflect on the rights of renters.
“Labour’s Renters’ Rights Bill published last September would bring our laws up to date. It highly restricts the grounds on which a person could be evicted, as well as updating rules around pets and furnished apartments. Rents are up 12.7% so we know that rent pressure zone limits are being breached. Labour’s Bill would enact a rent register that would allow a new tenant to know what the previous rent was to give some transparency in the market.
“As we approach winter, with an unprecedented number of renters facing the real threat of eviction, my biggest concern is that homelessness with skyrocket. The threat of losing a home is possible the greatest fear any household can face. Government must alleviate the concerns of renters and use the time to kick start a wide programme of tenant in situ purchase where people are at risk of homelessness.
“Over 10,000 people are currently homeless and this figure will only rise over the coming weeks if government does not step in. The most effective action the Minister can now take is to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. The most effective way to do so is to stop eviction notices and rent hikes in the private sector.
“For this emergency period, the Minister must scale up the tenant in situ powers to ensure that where a landlord is leaving the market, the tenant can remain in their home. This is a huge issue that many renters have been faced with over the past 12 months.
“Right now, businesses renting have far better security of tenure than people renting. This insecurity experienced by renters is having huge social consequences. We know that a huge volume of people entering homelessness come from the private rental sector.
“As the Threshold report rightly points out, single people face a wider range of issues when it comes to housing. Single income households are growing and deserve proper, affordable rented accommodation. No housing system, or indeed economy, should be trapping people into seeing marriage or relationships as economic leverage to buy a home. Single people aren’t transient and single people aren’t just young.
“Were the Government to move to formally recognise that every Irish person has the right to a home, we could begin to take their promises on homelessness for real. Instead, Government prefers stop-gap measures to buy them time rather than long-term preventative solutions as put forward by many in opposition. This is no time for business as usual.”