The Government should speedily implement the recommendations made by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) on illegal evictions, Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has said.
The recommendations include the need for trained illegal eviction facilitators at the RTB; inclusion of illegal eviction as an improper conduct by a landlord; issuing of significant fines for carrying out an illegal eviction; and powers to the gardaí to arrest without a warrant anyone participating in an illegal eviction, Mr Ó Broin said.
He said he wrote to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien on Wednesday asking him to set out his response to the recommendations and a time line for any legislation he intends to introduce on foot of the report.
The recommendations by the RTB were “eminently sensible,” and would produce “additional protections for tenants at a time when there is likely to be an increase in illegal evictions,” Mr Ó Broin said, adding that the Mr O’Brien should “speedily implement them”.
The comments were made following publication of the RTB report and cover letter by the Dublin Inquirer on Wednesday.
The letter, sent to the Minister on November 23rd, 2022, said the RTB received a direction from the Minister to investigate and make a report to him with recommendations to improve the response to protect tenants in instances of illegal evictions, on foot of an eviction which took place in Phibsborough, north Dublin.
The RTB undertook research into illegal evictions based on the evidence from “all relevant cases coming before the RTB’s dispute resolution service over the period 2017-2020,” the letter said.
It was “clear the impact of an illegal eviction can be detrimental to those who may be the victims of such actions”, it continued.
Liam Herrick, executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), said his organisation had consistently raised concerns about how gardaí engaged with evictions. “We welcomed recent clarification by the Garda Commissioner that gardaí have no role in supporting or facilitating evictions but should only intervene where public order incidents arise.”
There had been “several worrying incidents over recent months where tenants subject to evictions, including many who were subject to illegal evictions, have suffered assaults or damage to their personal property at the hands of landlords or their agents”, Mr Herrick told The Irish Times.
“Given the level of evictions taking place at the moment, the intervention of the RTB is particularly timely and merits serious consideration by the Garda and by Government,” he said, adding that ICCL believed it “would be appropriate now for the Garda to review its guidance regarding the role and legal obligations of its members at and around evictions”.
A spokesman for the Department of Housing said illegal evictions were “an extremely serious matter that requires a strong and decisive response”.
The RTB recommendations for legislative change were being “carefully examined together and considered for progression through to legislative change through the Houses of the Oireachtas”, the spokesman said.
“It is the intention of the department that the RTB recommendations be fully explored in the context of the review of the private rental sector, which is under way.”