No plan and no projections for lifting of eviction ban as historically high level of homelessness continues
Labour leader and housing spokesperson Ivana Bacik has condemned the decision to lift the eviction ban following the publication of the Department of Housing’s statistics on homelessness today.
With a mammoth 23% increase in homelessness year on year, Deputy Bacik said the overreliance on the private market represents a race to the bottom when it comes to housing in Ireland.
Even the Government’s own panacea, the ‘first refusal’ plan for renters when their landlord is selling up, has been announced without any detail or planning, as Parliamentary Questions reveal.
Deputy Bacik said:
“11,742 people, including 3,373 children are currently living in homelessness in this State. It’s beyond words. It is shameful. It should cause the Government pause for thought on its decision to lift the eviction ban tomorrow, yet, as this week in the Oireachtas has proven, Government are too busy shoring up the support of Independent TDs rather than being ambitious for housing in this State.
“Government has lost control of the housing market. With record levels of GDP, everyone should have a home and a roof over their heads. It is a fundamental right that this Government has failed to deliver on.
“There is no evidence underpinning the decision to lift the eviction ban tomorrow, and given the sustained high levels of homelessness revealed in the statistics published today, I would imagine that many in Government are wondering if they have confidence in the approach taken to lift the eviction ban.
“Even at the 11th hour, the cobbled together plans to protect renters aren’t in place. The Government’s panacea of a first refusal option for renters is doomed to fail. As responses to Parliamentary Questions put down by me reveal, Government has no plan in place for this measure and, even if they did, the majority of renters are simply not in a position to purchase a home given the astronomical rents they are being charged.
“The thing that seems to be lost on this Government is the heightened sense of insecurity and uncertainty that the lifting of the eviction ban has brought. People can’t make decisions about themselves, for their lives and for their families. People are putting off things like starting a family because they don’t know where they will be living next week. People are genuinely fearful that if they are evicted, there will be nowhere for them to go. Analysis across Daft.ie shows a dearth of rental supply nationwide.
“My fear is that the flood gates will open this weekend, with renters served so called ‘no fault’ eviction notices which will drive many into homelessness. It is a damning indictment of this conservative coalition that people who work hard their whole lives are simply given no chance due to the housing catastrophe they’re living through.
“Labour would gladly facilitate an extended Dáil sitting to keep people in their homes and prevent the tsunami of evictions likely to take place in the weeks and months ahead.”
For Written Answer on : 28/03/2023
Question Number(s): 331 Question Reference(s): 15458/23
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: Ivana Bacik T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage if plans to give tenants first refusal of their landlord’s property will fix the sale price at the market rate.
On 7 March last the Government decided that the “Winter Emergency Period”, under the Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Act 2022, will cease on the 31 March 2023. This will see deferred tenancy terminations taking effect over a staggered period from 1 April to 18 June 2023.
In addition to the on-going and extra measures taken to put in place increased options, including the tenant in situ scheme, to mitigate the impact of the end of the emergency period, Government has now also agreed on a number of new measures.
This includes developing a legislative provision which may require a landlord selling a property to offer “First Right of Refusal” to a tenant. This would require a landlord selling a property to first offer it to the tenant on an independent valuation basis for sale.
If a tenant is unable to access a sufficient mortgage from a financial provider, eligible tenants may access the Local Authority Home Loan scheme which already applies to second hand homes.
In order that tenants would have as full an opportunity as possible to purchase the home, I have issued a request to the First Home scheme Designated Activity Company to expand its eligibility so that in instances where tenants have received a notice of termination they would be eligible for support under that scheme.
Details of these measures are in the process of being advanced and full information will be available in due course.