Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has moved to clarify remarks he made about the Government’s “safety net” for renters which is being put in place to mitigate the impact of the eviction ban.
A spokesman for Mr Ryan said he accepted an answer he gave during an interview on RTÉ on Friday morning was “not as clear as it could have been”.
During the interview, Mr Ryan said there would be a “requirement” on landlords who are selling a property to take part in a “first purchase” scheme with either a local authority or approved housing body (AHB).
He had been asked about reports of landlords snubbing councils’ offers on properties, and seeking higher prices on the open market. “In this case, they do also have the requirement to go with the first purchase option to either the local authority or the AHB,” he told the Morning Ireland programme.
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However, under plans sketched out by the Government, the requirement will be for a selling landlord to offer “first purchase” to a tenant, but that will need legislation put in place. The requirement to make this offer will only kick in once that legislation has passed.
But Mr Ryan indicated in Friday’s interview that the requirement would be in place from Saturday, and would apply to a sale to a local authority or approved housing body from then rather than to a tenant. He also indicated it would be operable on an “administrative basis” rather than having to wait for the legislation to be passed.
What is coming into operation from Saturday is an expanded version of the tenant in situ purchase scheme. Under this plan, local authorities and approved housing bodies can purchase properties even for those who are not in receipt of rent subsidies.
Residents will become “cost rental” tenants, a form of tenancy where the rent is calculated on a not-for-profit basis. This will continue to apply once the legislation enforcing the “first refusal” option is in place, with the programme operating as a “backstop” if a tenant cannot come up with the funds to buy their home.
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A spokesman for Mr Ryan said on Friday the Minister acknowledged that “the answer he gave to a question during this morning’s live interview was as not as clear as it could have been”.
“He was referring to a safety net that will be in place on an administrative basis from tomorrow in order to protect the most vulnerable people in the private rental sector. This comprises the tenant-in-situ scheme for people on social housing supports and a cost-rental measure for people who are not on these social housing supports but are at risk of becoming homeless if they are evicted.”
It is the second time Mr Ryan has misspoken on an aspect of the new mitigation measures. Earlier this month, he told reporters that the first purchase option would be available to tenants from April 1st, again indicating it could be introduced on an administrative basis.