About 500 households facing eviction from April 1st have contacted Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) to ask about supports, including emergency accommodation.
The figures, provided to The Irish Times, come as one housing expert warns “overholding” – where a household remains in the home beyond the date a notice-to-quit comes into force – will increase as “the only option” to avoid homelessness.
Dr Rory Hearne, assistant professor of social policy at Maynooth University, said the number of households overholding had been increasing in recent years.
“There is no doubt the number of renters who are going to have to stay in their home because they have literally nowhere is going to rise. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) is going to be dealing with more and more cases, where you have landlords filing disputes about overholding, and then families coming before them saying they have tried literally everything but cannot find another home.”
It was important to stress, he continued, most landlords did not want to evict tenants into homelessness and “are trying to figure it out as well”.
“Landlords, in many cases, are turning to the RTB to try to get support for their tenants. But overholding is going the only option now for thousands of households – that or going into emergency accommodation.
“Families are very aware that if they bring their children into emergency accommodation, they are going to traumatise their children,” he said. “People are terrified of emergency accommodation, and tenants will overhold to avoid that.”
The DRHE, which co-ordinates homelessness accommodation across the capital, was expecting a “likely increase” in homelessness from 1st April, it said.
Asked whether it would advise households to “overhold”, it said: “Individual households may make that decision.”
“We are not currently seeing any big spikes in new presentations, however, we would expect a likely increase when the eviction moratorium ends ... and approximately 500 households have contacted the four Dublin local authorities with various dates for notice of termination that will fall over the coming months.
“Households are advised to contact their local authority as soon as possible if they are at risk of experiencing homelessness,” it said. “We have identified additional emergency accommodation capacity for families, which will come on stream incrementally over the coming weeks.”
RTB data illustrates the increase in overholding since 2020 – a total of 79 disputes were lodged by landlords about overholding at the end of 2020, increasing to 230 at the end of 2021, and to 308 in the third quarter of last year.
Threshold, which operates a tenancy protection service on behalf the DRHE, says the number of tenants it supports choosing to overhold has increased, from 240 in 2021 to 300 in 2022. It does not recommend overholding, but where this is being considered, it advises tenants to “continue paying their rent when it is due” and that their landlord may take a dispute about overholding to the RTB.
Dr Hearne said tenants who overhold in coming months should not be seen as engaging in antisocial behaviour, but supported as households facing homelessness.
“People have no choice. This needs to be understood a completely understandable and rational response to having nowhere to go. Emergency accommodation is not a suitable alternative to housing. It simply is not.”
Dispute resolution times at the RTB vary, depending on whether the issue can be resolved through telephone mediation, adjudication or ends up in a tribunal hearing. In 2021, telephone mediation cases were resolved in about 9.7 weeks; adjudication 19.6 weeks, and tribunal cases were completed in an average of 33.4 weeks.