New proposals designed to strengthen renters' rights don't do enough to stop evictions into homelessness, according to housing charity Threshold.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy this week announced new proposals to strengthen rights in the private rental market. These include the extension of rent pressure zones until 2021.
The proposals also include strict requirements about eviction notices. Landlords who do so under the guise of selling the property must now sell within nine months or they will be required to offer it back to the former tenant.
Housing charity, Threshold, raised concerns that this may still result in tenants becoming homeless.
Threshold chairwoman, Dr Aideen Hayden, said:
Among the tenants we assist, the main reason their tenancies are ended is because the landlord says he or she wants to sell the house.
"While we welcome that any stated intention of the landlord to sell is to be followed up on and verified, this still means many tenants face eviction due to no fault of their own."
The measure was described as 'ridiculous and fundamentally unfair' by the Irish Property Owners' Association (IPOA).
They said that a property owner has to be able to decide what they do with their own property and that property rights must not be conceded:
"Supply is the issue and nothing in this legislation will increase supply. The changes will not encourage more investment; they will result in the reduction in the existing supply of accommodation."
However, Threshold welcomed some of the other proposals. Included in the draft were revised notice periods for evictions.
Tenants in a property for 6-12 months will see their notice period increase from 35 to 90 days; those renting for 1-3 years will now get 120 days; and those in a property for 3-7 years will now get 180 days.
Increasing the notice periods will help to reduce homelessness, Threshold said:
It reflects the current reality of renting in Ireland where finding alternative accommodation can be exceptionally difficult. It is our view these longer notice periods will also reduce the risk of homelessness associated with tenancy terminations.
"Many tenants, particularly those who are in receipt of HAP, may experience extreme difficulty in sourcing alternative accommodation in a short timeframe."
Announcing the measures this week, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy described the proposals as 'the most significant' reforms in the rental sector in recent years.
He added that it is not possible to ban tenancy terminations for reason of sale, because it would be unlawful.