Pressure mounts to reinstate eviction ban as tenant termination notices rise by 20%

Taoiseach says ‘solution is through more supply’ amid release of latest RTB figures

Pressure was mounting on the Government on Thursday following fresh data that showed an increase in the number of termination notices for tenants in the private housing sector and a desire in most cases by landlords to sell their properties.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) reported that 5,735 notices of termination, advising tenants they must vacate, were issued between April and the end of June, an increase of one fifth on the first quarter.

Of those, almost two thirds (63 per cent) came because landlords opted to sell rather than keep the property in the rental market, the RTB said.

Its latest quarterly data follows a decision by Government to end the eviction ban earlier this year, a move that drew widespread criticism and predictions of rising homelessness.


It prompted renewed concerns and pressure on Government to either reinstate a moratorium on evictions or widen supports for tenants facing the prospect of competing for accommodation in a strained market.

In Dublin, where pressure in the rental sector is particularly acute, 2,298 notices of termination were issued during the second quarter, a rise of 14 per cent on the first three months of the year.

The vast majority of tenants who receive notices of termination from landlords will find alternative accommodation while new tenancies are “being created all the time”, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Thursday.

Mr Varadkar said the previous moratorium did not reduce homelessness but simply “deferred the problem”.

“That is not a solution. The solution is through more supply. It’s through development of cost rental, which is Government-provided affordable rental,” he said, adding that termination notices did not necessarily result in the end of tenancy.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin immediately called on Government to reverse its position on the ban.

“These figures show that the number of people at risk of homelessness is set to grow in the coming months, leading to further rises in homelessness,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien could not be reached for comment. However, the Department of Housing noted that 15,000 applications to the RTB for first registration of private tenancies and 1,300 applications from Approved Housing bodies in the same period demonstrated “the churn which exists in the rental sector”.

Compared with an intention to sell, 923 landlords (16 per cent of the total) told the RTB that a family member intended to move into the property, the second highest cited reason for issuing a notice.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said that Minister for Finance Michael McGrath is open to considering changes to the rental tax credit in the Budget, after Mr O’Brien said he was pushing for the credit to be increased to nearly €800.

Wayne Stanley, executive director of the Simon Communities of Ireland, said that with no sign of a further moratorium, the need for a “greater suite” of response measures” was now evident.

“We need to really ramp up the safety nets that are in place,” he said. “The tenants-in-situ [scheme] needs to start delivering at scale.”

That mechanism allows local authorities to purchase properties from landlords, allowing the tenant to remain in their home.

Mr Stanley noted that about 1,300 notices to quit come due each month. “What we know is that people on lower incomes on the lower end of the rental market are the ones who are suffering most,” he said.

His views were echoed by the housing charity Focus Ireland, who said Thursday’s figures meant almost 20,000 tenants had lost, or stand to lose, their homes.

“Landlords evicting tenants so that they can sell their properties has been the single biggest cause of family homelessness for almost a decade,” said its advocacy director Mike Allen.

Fr Peter McVerry, who favours a renewed moratorium with limited exemptions, said he was not surprised by the apparent flight of landlords given that under the Housing Assistance Payment (Hap) scheme, they were expected to manage social housing in the place of local authorities.

“It’s a nightmare scenario and every day there is heart-wrenching reports of people who are homeless and in dire circumstances,” he said.

Sean Moynihan, chief executive of Alone, said the crisis also affected older tenants despite a dominant assumption that they tended to own their homes.

“In the first six months of this year we would have dealt with 22,000 [contacts],” he said. “Housing is always in the top two or three things that people come to us for.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times