Low targets and abandonment of the eviction ban – the government has failed on housing
- Minister O’Brien confirms no plans to reintroduce annual eviction ban
- Government platitudes on targets conceal overall lack of ambition
- A housing emergency was declared almost five years ago – where are the emergency measures?
Today, 11th July, following the publication of the Housing for All progress update for Q2 2023, Labour Leader and spokesperson for housing, Ivana Bacik TD, has urged the government to stop the spin and introduce meaningful measures to address the housing disaster.
Her call comes following confirmation by the Housing Minister that he has no plans to reinstate a winter eviction ban on an annual basis.
Deputy Bacik said:
“Minister O’Brien is, no doubt, quietly pleased that the launch of the latest Housing for All progress report coincided with the blockbuster viewing in the Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport & Media. On a quieter week, he may have come under more fire for what is a blatant failure to deliver on housing.
“The government may well congratulate itself for getting back on track to meet its building targets under the Housing for All plan. However, the reality is that the targets are simply too low.
“Labour has consistently called for a more ambitious target of 50,000 new builds and 50,000 refurbished homes per year for the next decade. There is currently shortfall of 250,000 homes. CSO figures show there are 166,752 vacant homes nationwide – 7.8 % of housing stock.
“The Census shows that our population is rising above 5 million people and is set to continue to grow. Homelessness figures continue to break new records monthly. Clearly, the government’s plans fall far short of existing housing need, let alone projected need for years to come.
“The reality is that current policy simply does not tally with the reality facing households across the country. In October, it will be five years since Dáil Éireann declared a housing emergency, with the support of Minister O’Brien and his colleagues in Fianna Fáil. Yet, we have yet to see real emergency measures to address the crisis we are in.
“We in Labour have proposed a number of measures to address the housing disaster, including our Renters’ Rights Bill to end no-fault evictions and our plan to build one million homes in a decade.
“The introduction of a temporary ban on no-fault evictions represented a glimmer of hope – a sign that government parties were, at last, beginning to grapple with the scale of the challenge.
“Unfortunately, they are now running scared from their own proposal, lifting the ban without any evidence basis for doing so and with no immediate contingency measures to cushion the blow for those in the private rented sector.
“Indeed, this afternoon, in reply to a parliamentary question, the Minister for Housing confirmed to me that he has no plans to reinstate a winter ban on evictions on an annual basis.
“Even the Conservative Party in Britain has acknowledged that no-fault evictions need to be tackled. Yet, the government here will not even commit to restricting no-fault evictions during the cold winter months and Christmas period. Ireland is out of step with European renters rights regimes, falling far short of the norm. I am profoundly disappointed that the most Minister O’Brien will guarantee is that he will monitor the operation of the rental market. Merely monitoring the market is of no use to the thousands of renters in housing insecurity, unable to save for a deposit to buy a house of their own, and fearful of eviction. Something needs to change.”
For Written Answer on : 11/07/2023
Question Number(s): 359 Question Reference(s): 33630/23
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: Ivana Bacik T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage his plans to review the decision to lift the temporary moratorium on no-fault evictions; and his plans to reinstate a winter eviction ban on an annual basis.
The Government agreed on 7 March that the ‘Winter Emergency Period’ under the Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Act 2022 would come to an end on 31 March 2023, with deferred tenancy terminations taking effect over a staggered period from 1 April to 18 June 2023 as planned and legislated for under that Act.
In advance of this, I considered a number of courses of action and consulted with colleagues across Government who agreed, taking account of the advices of the Office of Attorney General and our collective knowledge and interaction with the residential sector, that a focus on additional new supply was the best way forward in dealing with the end of the winter eviction ban in a manner which best protects tenants.
I have no plans to reinstate a winter eviction ban on an annual basis. However, the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2022 and the operation of rental market are kept under close and constant review by my Department, the Residential Tenancies Board and the Housing Agency.
As set out in the Housing for All Action Plan Update (published in November 2022), my Department has commenced a comprehensive review of the private rental sector. This review will take into account the significant regulatory changes over the past several years in the residential rental market, and will report on how our housing system can be enhanced to provide an efficient, affordable, viable, safe and secure framework for both tenants and landlords.
This review will be essential in properly planning future policy for the residential rented sector including implementing measures to support both landlords and tenants.
To inform the review, my Department has a public consultation process underway. A Public Consultation Submission form went live on my Department’s website on 26 June 2023. A related stakeholder workshop took place on 6 July 2023. Following targeted stakeholder engagement, I have decided to extend the consultation period by a further two weeks to 8 August 2023. Further details are available at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/consultation/ea0ea-public-consultation-review-of-the-private-residential-rental-sector/
Over the coming months, my Department and I will work further with Government partners and stakeholders to put together a comprehensive new package of effective measures for both tenants and landlords.