It’s still not too late to act for renters
- Labour’s Renters’ Rights Bill 2021 would restrict no-fault evictions to help keep renters in their homes.
- Labour’s Homeless Families Bill 2017 would ensure that the rights of children are prioritised by authorities in the allocation of accommodation for homeless families.
Labour Leader and housing spokesperson Ivana Bacik TD said today that the latest figures published by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), which record an increase in eviction notices, signal a need for the Government to reinstate the eviction ban.
Without any contingency plans in place to protect renters, Deputy Bacik said the Government should restore the moratorium on no-fault evictions on a temporary basis, until evidence shows that homelessness is decreasing.
Deputy Bacik said:
“By lifting the eviction ban at the end of March, the Government signalled to renters that they were on their own when it comes to getting secure housing. There was no clear contingency plan in place for the thousands of renters who now risk entering homelessness through no fault of their own.
“Figures released by the RTB this afternoon confirm a sustained number of eviction notices being issued to renters; from January to March, 4,753 notices to quit were issued to renters. The vast majority of these were so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions. Taken in conjunction with the Friday’s Department of Housing figures, which show that more than 12,000 adults and 3,500 children are now in homelessness, alarm bells should be ringing in the Custom House.
“Housing charities, including Threshold, Simon Communities, Focus Ireland, and the Peter McVerry Trust are warning the Government of the social crisis which is ensuing as a result of lifting the eviction ban without meaningful protections being put in place. Had the Government taken on board Labour’s Renters’ Rights and Homeless Families Bills already, fewer renters would be evicted into homelessness and the rights of children would be protected within the emergency accommodation system. The best time to bring those two bills into law was when we first proposed them. The second best time is now.
“However, a response by An Taoiseach this afternoon in response to questioning by me in the Dáil chamber would indicate that there is no appetite to engage with us in opposition. Rather than giving serious consideration to our Homeless Families Bill, which has the support of organisations, including Focus Ireland, he chose to obfuscate and triangulate, avoiding the question altogether.
“The Taoiseach’s whataboutery does a disservice to the parliamentary process, given that the Government had previously committed to working with us on these bills. Moreover, it shows contempt for groups like Focus and the thousands of renters who have received a notice to quit and have nowhere to go.
“In a week where charities and NGOs are releasing data showing the full extent of firefighting that they are doing on the front lines of the crisis, the Government must face up to the fact that lifting the eviction ban has not worked. It must be reinstated until there is an evidence basis in place for its lifting.
“There is no shame in admitting a mistake. However, it would be shameful to double down on this bad policy, which is forcing renters into homelessness and placing even more pressure on a broken housing market. We in Labour urge the Government to face up to the housing disaster and implement emergency measures, including by reinstating the eviction ban until homelessness rates have reduced for four consecutive months.”