'Workable solutions' needed for families in rent arrears, charities warn

Rent freezes and a ban on evictions will cease on August 1, leaving families who rent vulnerable 
'Workable solutions' needed for families in rent arrears, charities warn
Housing minister Darragh O'Brien extended protections for renters on Monday. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

Urgent preventative action is needed before the ban on evictions and rent increases can be lifted, housing and homelessness charities have warned.

Housing minister Darragh O'Brien announced that rent freezes and the ban on evictions would be extended until August 1 while other measures are put in place to protect tenants and property owners. The move has been broadly welcomed, though concerns have been raised about the last minute nature of the move. The measures were extended just hours before they were due to expire.

Wayne Stanley, national spokesperson for the Simon Community, said, "The eleventh hour and seemingly piecemeal nature of the decision has been cruel for those individuals and families at risk of homelessness."

Removing the protections must be contingent on the government putting in place "an array of preventative supports" to keep people in their homes, Mr Stanley warned.

CEO of Threshold, John-Mark McCafferty, believes that in a time when so many renters are on a reduced income or relying on government income supports, rents cannot be allowed to rise sharply once again.

“We are witnessing the reduction of household incomes of many private renters. People in hospitality, retail, administration and other sectors have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 measures, and many of them are tenants," Mr McCafferty said.

“Allowing rents to increase again over the short to medium term is not the right thing to do. While we always knew that the moratoria on rent increases and evictions were not permanent measures, rents should not be going up. They are already at an all-time high." 

Mr McCafferty compared to the current situation to that of the recession.

“As a country, we found a way to deal with mortgage arrears ten years ago. Arrangements were made to try to ensure that people didn’t lose their family home - and rightly so" he said. 

"For families whose home happens to be in the private rented sector, and who are affected by unemployment or drops in household income, paying rent can be an increasing challenge. Workable solutions to arrears are required in order to keep the families affected in their home."

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