There will be “an absolute avalanche” of further people entering into homelessness over the coming months if the ban on evictions is not extended and strengthened, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has said.
The Dún Laoghaire TD said there was “no more emergency accommodation left” with “no alternatives” for individuals who are facing eviction where there is no fault on their part.
Mr Boyd Barrett was speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday where his party’s Eviction Ban Bill 2022 was being debated, which calls for the ban on evictions, which is due to expire at the end of March, to be extended.
The proposed legislation asserts that a housing emergency should be declared for the next 12 months and during that time tenants cannot be evicted unless there is evidence of anti-social behaviour or damage to property.
The Bill has progressed to Committee State after the Minister of State for Local Government and Planning Kieran O’Donnell accidentally failed to oppose it in the Dáil.
When the Dáil was asked by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl if it agreed to second reading of the bill, Mr O’Donnell did not oppose it.
Mr O’Donnell told the Ceann Comhairle moments later that he was opposing the bill, but Mr Ó Fearghaíl said it was too late.
Earlier, Mr Boyd Barrett said he was in the District Court last Friday with a family who were being evicted despite having “done nothing wrong” and had lived in the home since the 1950s.
“The landlord, owner of multiple properties, was evicting them, a no fault eviction and they pay the rent on the home they have lived in all their lives since the 1950s with their two teenage children,” he said. “It is a single income family, the husband has worked for a semi-State company all his life, and they were facing eviction proceedings in the District Court.”
The People Before Profit TD said he had raised the case with Tánaiste Micheál Martin last week, saying the Fianna Fáil leader “didn’t understand” the Government’s current eviction ban.
“Anybody whose termination date fell before the introduction of the moratorium can and is being evicted, even on no fault grounds,” Mr Boyd Barrett said.
His party colleague, Brid Smith, said her Dublin South Central clinic was “out the door” with housing issues.
“People in inadequate living spaces, on sofas, in places infested with mould and damp, in rented rooms costing €1,500 to €2,000 a month plus,” she said.
“The anger and desperation and the fear of these regular and now perfectly normal housing cases is nothing compared to the terror of those facing eviction, absolute terror.”
People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said in an emergency situation, “we need emergency measures” and the State had to do “everything in its power to stop people going into homelessness”.
Mr Kenny said if the ban was lifted over the coming months, possibly “thousands” of people would have nowhere to stay other than a Garda station and this was “absolutely unacceptable”.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the Government was considering legal and policy issues around extending the eviction ban and that no decision had been made.
Mr O’Brien said there were “detailed discussions” happening with the Office of the Attorney General on the legal considerations of such an extension.
The Dublin Fingal TD said extending the ban would have to be looked at in context, and that since 2016 a total of 44,000 private tenancies had been lost which was “very serious”. He said while he was a firm believer in the provision of social housing, “we also need a functioning private rental sector”.
“You do have to genuinely make sure that measures that are taken don’t lead to further flight and reduction in stock and in housing capacity in that space,” he said.
Mr O’Brien added that it was important to note there was “no cliff edge” on the eviction moratorium period.
“It doesn’t just end on March 31st. The current law that is in place has been deliberately designed to avoid a sudden removal in these emergency protections,” he said.
“The ban currently constructed will be lifted on a phased basis until June 18th so there isn’t a clear cliff edge in that space.”