Q&A: How will the new evictions ban work?

Sharply rising graph of eviction notices shows terminations ballooning in the past two years

What has the Government decided in relation to evictions?

At its Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Ministers approved a memo from Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to ban all termination notices for rented homes between now and April 1st?

But has the Government not opposed calls from the Opposition to impose such a ban for many months? What’s changed?

It has not been in favour of a ban until now. What has changed has been a dramatic shift in the rented market sector. The number of summary notices of termination for rented properties has ballooned over the past two years. Back in the third quarter of 2019, only 131 notices to quit were received by tenants in the private rented sector. The following quarter that shot up to 472 and had risen to 841 by the second quarter of last year and 958 in the final quarter of that year.


The figures are going upwards, but it’s still relatively small in the context of almost 300,000 private tenancies in the State?

The problem is there are few properties available to rent because of the housing and accommodation shortage. So those who lose tenancies have entered a rental market where there is little prospect of securing like-for-like properties. In extremis, families have been pushed into homelessness.

Have the numbers of eviction orders plateaued?

Unfortunately not. They have risen again so far this year, breaking the 1,000 per quarter mark. The figures were 1,132 in the first quarter and a staggering 1,666 in the second, according to data collated by the Residential Tenancies Board.

What was most concerning was the reasons behind the eviction orders. More than 1,000 of the 1,666 notices issued in the second quarter of this year were because the landlord intended to sell the property. That meant that for well over half of the properties involved, landlords were leaving the market. In many cases, that would result in that property being no longer available for rent.

Mr O’Brien said on Tuesday that “the number of people in need of emergency housing is rising” and intervention was needed.

So how will the ban work?

O’Brien said the ban would provide tenants with “breathing space”. The moratorium will conclude on March 31st. Some of his Government colleagues including Tánaiste Leo Varadkar have said in recent weeks that a temporary ban like that would merely push back the problem by six months.

However, the solution is that a full return to the previous situation will happen on a staggered basis, with evictions being allowed on a sliding scale depending on the length of the tenancy agreement.

To avoid a glut of eviction notices in the period before the ban kicks in, the Minister has also applied the ban to any “live” notices that have already been issued. So those who have been served with a notice to quit can now retain their tenancy until the end of March at least.

And what about landlords? What is their position?

The Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA) is considering challenging the decisions in the courts. Its chairwoman Mary Conway said it would not avoid evictions this winter but would simply store up the problem.

In a statement, the IPOA said the measure will be disastrous for the sector as it will only serve to dissuade landlords from continuing to maintain properties for rent. “This year, thousands of landlords sold their properties, stock that was lost to the rental market.”

The IPOA has also questioned the constitutionality of the move, which it claims erodes the property rights of landlords.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times