By Michelle Devane, PA
Sinn Féin has called on the Government to reintroduce a blanket ban on rent increases and evictions for all renters until the end of the year.
The Dáil heard the Government is “failing” tenants and that the Housing Minister’s current protections are “not fit for purpose”.
During Leaders’ Questions, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said figures obtained by her party from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) showed only 475 tenants out of 300,000 renters had sought protection from eviction, which she said confirmed that the current measures were “too restrictive” and only protect a minority.
“We now know that since last August more than 4,000 tenants have received rent arrear warning letters from their landlord and 1,100 notices to quit have been issued,” she said.
The Taoiseach refuses to introduce protections for renters facing rent hikes, rent arrears and notices to quit. All the evidence reflects that govt is failing renters. But govt is not for moving. More of the same #FFFG #HousingCrisis
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) June 16, 2021
“Yet only 475 tenants have submitted this written declaration to the RTB to protect them from eviction.
“The so-called protections introduced by Darragh O’Brien apply to just 475 tenants out of 300,000. This comes at a time when rents are sky high and unaffordable for so many workers and families. Yet many have faced rent increases with more increases on the way, as landlords roll two years’ hikes into one.
“It’s very clear now and the evidence demonstrates that Darragh O’Brien’s highly restrictive protections are simply not fit for purpose.
“So I want to know Taoiseach, do you now accept in light of data and facts, and experience, that your policy has failed renters, and are you willing as a matter of urgency to reintroduce the blanket ban on rent increases and evictions for all renters until at least the end of this year?”
In response, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he did not accept Mrs McDonald’s assertions and that a blanket ban on rent increases would be open to legal challenge and would “almost certainly” deter continued investment in the rental accommodation market.
Mr Martin said the Government would continue to do everything it possibly can to protect tenants.
He said: “We know that a notice of termination served does not always result in an eviction and a landlord very often serves a notice of termination, but doesn’t follow through on it, or it can be averted or it can be dealt with.
“We will do everything we possibly can to protect tenants, and there’s a range of supports that are available there to protect tenants including the legal support that the minister has brought in and that he’s going to extend for tenants to the beginning of next year.
“I think in parallel with that will be a continuing focus in reducing the number in family homelessness, which has gone down by 31 per cent on the total recorded in April 2020.”
He added that the number of landlords registered with the RTB had reduced by 3,857 last year, which he described as a significant contraction of the market.