Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has sought to play down fears about a wave of people being put out of their homes in the coming months as a result of the ban on no-fault evictions ending next week, suggesting that judges will be “very reluctant” to issue eviction notices.
“Evictions in Ireland can only be ordered by the courts,” Mr Varadkar told journalists on his way into the second day of an EU summit in Brussels this morning.
“People often mix up notices of termination with evictions...and I would expect those numbers to continue to be very small. And I can guarantee you that judges are very reluctant to evict people into homelessness. So we do need to start using words a bit more accurately,” he said.
“Evictions are ordered a court, it’s not the same as a notice to quit or notice of termination.”
Mr Varadkar pointed out that the numbers of people in emergency accommodation have risen in recent months despite the eviction ban being in place.
“This idea that the Opposition put across that notice of termination turns to eviction turns to person in homeless accommodation – that’s not how it works,” he said.
Asked if he expected many people who are served with notices to quit to overhold and stay in their accommodation despite the landlord’s wishes, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t know – I think some people will overhold and I think in those scenarios the vast majority of property owners and landlords are very reasonable.
“You know, they will understand that sometimes people will need more time to provide an alternative place to go, provided they’re paying the rent, a lot of property owners and landlords will be reasonable about that.
“There will be other cases that end up in the courts where courts will adjudicate on the matter and decide whether or not an eviction order is appropriate. And from my experience dealing with difficult cases and constituency cases, the courts are very reluctant to evict people into homelessness for humanitarian reasons.”
Mr Varadkar went on to say: “But often these cases can be very complicated. I hear cases all the time being brought up by Opposition members in the Dáil that on the face of it sound like really hard cases. And when you actually dig into the details it can be a lot more complicated. Sometimes the person facing a notice of termination has a share in a property, for example.”
Mr Varadkar instanced another case brought up in the Dáil recently in which a landlord “was being demonised for evicting this person”. But he said when he looked into it, the landlord was dead “and it was an executor sale”.
“So we need to be mindful that every case is different and every case is individual but certainly from my experience, actual eviction orders can only be issued by a court and it’s very, very rare that a judge would evict an individual family into homelessness. They would always try to provide time for a solution to be found.”
Mr Varadkar and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, who is also attending the summit, said they did not have a clear idea of what the level of evictions would be over the coming months.
European leaders are meeting for the second day of the Brussels summit in a session likely to be dominated by discussion on the economy and banking following some recent high profile bank failures.
The leaders will be briefed by Mr Donohoe, who is the head of the Eurogroup, the body of finance ministers from Eurozone countries, and by European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde.