Housing charity Threshold has welcomed the three-month ban on evictions and a temporary ban on rent increases but said more needs to be done in these ‘unprecedented times’.
Addressing the Dáil today, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the Government will introduce legislation to protect renters. “I know people have a lot of concerns in relation to renters,” he said.
“Many people, tens of thousands of them in recent days, have lost employment in recent days.
“We will legislate to ensure there will be no evictions during this period. We will legislate to ensure renters are protected so they can focus on their health and the health of their families.”
Edel Conlon, Cork regional manager of Threshold, said she was would urge tenants across the city and county to contact Threshold as soon as possible with housing issues.
“We can ensure tenants can access the supports they need to pay their rent whether that be rent supplement or HAP,” she said. “It is vital that the local authorities and the [Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection] are well resourced in the coming weeks to process these applications. If you have any questions, give me a call.”
While welcoming the announcement of legislation to place a moratorium on rent increases and evictions for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency, Threshold said clarity is needed in relation to notices of termination issued prior to the emergency.
“These are just some of the measures that will be required to protect renters in these unprecedented times,” said CEO John-Mark McCafferty.
“The private rented sector is a precarious space to begin with, so this crisis has thrown a lot of tenants into further unstable situations.
“At Threshold, we have received a swell of calls to our helpline in recent days, primarily from tenants who are unsure as to how they will meet their rent payments, with thousands losing their jobs overnight.
“Particularly worrying is a small number of cases in which renters are being told to leave their homes because they have returned to Ireland from affected areas — even when they are not showing any symptoms.”
Mr McCafferty said this was happening in rent-a-room scenarios in particular.
He also said the moratorium would only go so far. “The minister has stated that rent supplement supports will be available for those whose incomes have been lost or severely reduced.
“We would urge the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to simplify the application process for rent supplement as was done for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, and to ensure there are sufficient staff and resources to process claims.”