Explained: How will the winter eviction ban work?

Once legislation passes through the Oireachtas — expected to happen before the end of the month — a moratorium will come into effect until April 1st.
Explained: How will the winter eviction ban work?

Fiachra Gallagher

The Government has signed off on a temporary ban on new evictions.

Once legislation passes through the Oireachtas — expected to happen before the end of the month — a moratorium will come into effect until April 1st.

Eviction notices served during the moratorium period will be enforced on a staggered basis between April and June to avoid a "glut" of evictions come the end of the ban, it is understood.

It's also understood that people who are currently the subject of a live eviction notice will be protected by the ban.

The ban will not extend to tenants who refuse to pay their rent or damage their property.

Why is Government considering an eviction ban?

Eviction bans have been part of the political conversation surrounding the housing crisis for some time now.

Coming into the winter months, the State faces an ongoing crisis in housing. Homeless figures are approaching 11,000, and there are just 35 Housing Assistance Payment-eligible properties available for rent. According to the latest Daft.ie report, rents in Ireland have risen by 12 per cent in the last year.

Housing charity Threshold has seen a doubling in the rate of tenancy terminations this year — there are 462 being issued a month, compared to 263 a month in 2019.

And according to figures released by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Féin's spokesperson for housing, 1,781 tenants were served with eviction notices between April and June of this year — again, more than double the amount in the same time period in 2021.

Who wants the ban introduced?

Opposition parties and housing and homelessness charities have been calling for a moratorium for some time.

John-Mark McCafferty, chief executive of housing charity Threshold said in October that the availability of accommodation in Ireland is at a "very grim level" and called for a ban to help tenants in the short term.

On Monday, Wayne Stanley of the Simon Community said that the current housing situation means that a ban is now "imperative".

In August, Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin called for a temporary eviction ban. "We need radical action and we need it now," he said at the time.

Earlier in October, People Before Profit said they would submit a bill to Cabinet proposing a ban on winter evictions.

As the Government moved to introduce the ban this week, some Government voices have come out in cautious support of the ban.

Who is against the ban?

The Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA) have come out strongly against any form of eviction ban.

The interest group said it would consider legal action against the proposed moratorium.

Mary Conway, chairperson of the IPOA, told Newstalk Breakfast and RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland that the private rental sector was "over regulated and over taxed", which was why many landlords were leaving the sector.

She said that homelessness was being caused by a general lack of affordable housing, rather than landlords.

"Really, the whole thing here is the failure of successive Governments to provide social housing.

"There are tenants in the private market that should have been in social housing from the beginning, but the houses just weren’t built," she said.

Some figures within Fine Gael are also hesitant about the ban. The Irish Times reported on Tuesday that some within the party are concerned about the political impact of having to reverse the ban next year.

Leo Varadkar said it was important to consider the "pros and cons" of a ban.

Will it fix the problem?

No: parties both for and against the ban note that the ban will not solve the housing crisis.

But, as the Simon Community have noted, a moratorium on evictions will create "breathing space" over the winter months.

Mr Cafferty, of Threshold, said an eviction ban was the "least worst option" given the current scenario.

Leo Varadkar said on Monday that there were "obvious advantages" to introducing a ban on evictions — people would not lose their homes over the winter period.

However, the Tánaiste noted that it may kick a growing problem down the line.

"We have to balance [the advantages] against the possibility that it might make more landlords sell up or sell more quickly, in which case there'll be [fewer] properties available in the long term."

 

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