Call for extension of ban on evictions mid concerns over rent arrears

Extending the ban on evictions is crucial in protecting tenants who have built up rental arrears during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).
Call for extension of ban on evictions mid concerns over rent arrears
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Extending the ban on evictions is crucial in protecting tenants who have built up rental arrears during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).

NESC, which advises the Taoiseach on strategic policy, also warned of the need for "effective regulation" to ensure tourism accommodation which became available during the crisis does not revert to the short-term letting market.

The report, authored by Noel Cahill, explored the impact of coronavirus on Ireland's housing policy.

The response to the pandemic "demonstrates the capacity of government to take swift and decisive action in a crisis, evident in prompt introduction of legislation to ban evictions and rent increases, and in the acquisition of additional accommodation for homeless households", Mr Cahill said.

The ban on evictions is described as "an important protection" as tenants may have built up arrears during the crisis and could now be at risk of landlords terminating tenancies once the ban expires. Mr Cahill said "it is important that it be extended".

The report notes issues with the level of awareness of available rent supports, and also points out the issues in the suitability or quality of some short-term accommodation used for asylum seekers and people seeking shelter from domestic abuse.

It also notes a modest increase in rental properties in areas like Galway and Dublin. Many of these were previously short-term tourist accommodation.

"The collapse in tourism demand for accommodation in areas of high demand will be temporary. Effective regulation is needed to ensure that accommodation that has become available arising from the collapse in tourism does not revert to short-term lets after the crisis," Mr Cahill said.

Otherwise, though, the impact of the virus on supply will be negative due to the shutdown on construction sites and the possibility of speculative developments being put on hold and new projects delayed as developers and financiers re-assess the market. And, while land prices will likely fall, Mr Cahill warned of the need for "effective compulsory purchase powers" to prevent land hoarding by developers waiting for the market to bounce back.

Mr Cahill also suggests there is now an opportunity to "reimagine the core features of Irish housing policy", such as reconfiguring urban spaces for better balance between cyclists, cars and pedestrians. Increased remote working also presents new opportunities for urban centres, he said.

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