Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has described the Housing Minister’s handling of the rent freeze and eviction ban as “a shambles” and said that he did not trust the Government in terms of renters.
In a statement on Monday night, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien said the moratorium on rent freezes and the bank on evictions would be extended until August 1 following discussions with the Attorney General, by which time ministers hope to have new legislation in place which will enable the measures to be put on a firmer footing.
Mr Ó Broin told Newstalk Breakfast that there were tens of thousands of renters who had been laid off because of Covid-19. Many were young and worked in sectors that were unlikely to reopen.
“The fact that the Minister only announced his extension two and a half hours before the deadline expired last night shows what a shambles they’ve made of this.
“I’m not aware of any consultation with landlord organisations or tenant organisations. I can say for sure there’s been no consultation with the Opposition.
“Landlords have rightly raised the issue of tenants who are currently engaged in significant anti-social behaviour, and they can’t issue a notice to quit.
“I have no difficulty with having the emergency legislation amended for such cases to be taken to the Residential Tenancies Board.
“Likewise, there are reports of a small number of tenants who have an ability to pay their rents - they haven’t lost their job due to Covid-19 - and they’re not paying their rent. Again, I have no difficulty with those cases being taken to the RTB.”
Mr Ó Broin said that tenants who had lost their income because of the pandemic needed to be protected.
Such measures needed to be extended until the end of the year, he said and he called for more to be done to promote the use of rent supplement for those struggling to pay their rents.
Last night, the Housing Minister encouraged tenants that have lost their job to apply for rent supplement.
Mr O'Brien said: “I have said previously that any person who has lost their job as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and is struggling to pay their rent may be eligible to apply for the rent supplement and I would encourage them to do so.
“As outlined in the Programme for Government improving the standards, security and affordability for all renters is a key priority for this Government, and is something I am totally committed to.”