Ban on evictions unlikely to be renewed as eight counties face more restrictions

Eight counties could see increased restrictions imposed as Covid-19 cases rise
Ban on evictions unlikely to be renewed as eight counties face more restrictions

Taoiseach Micheál Martin on rising Covid-19 rates: 'Certainly, Louth, Donegal, and Waterford are giving rise for concern.'

The Government will not reinstate the ban on evictions or reintroduce the €350-a-week pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) despite concern about eight counties needing higher restrictions.

Despite opposition calls for both measures to be reinstated given the impact of the new restrictions in Dublin, senior Government sources have said neither are likely.

However, the Government is concerned at trends in the spread of Covid-19 in the counties of Louth, Waterford, Limerick, Kildare, Leitrim, Donegal, Offaly, and Wicklow, and an increase to level-three restrictions could happen later this week.

This is in addition to the high-level concern surrounding Dublin.

The number of daily Covid-19 cases across Ireland could soar to 1,000 in a month if the current progress of the virus remains unchanged, it claimed.

Despite the mounting concern about the increased need for higher restrictions in so many counties, the Irish Examiner understands that:

  • Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien does not feel a reinstatement of the rent evictions ban is necessary, as measures exist to stop Covid-related evictions;
  • Any change in the PUP will not happen until budget day and is more likely to see the current three weekly rates (€300, €250, and €203) being extended beyond April of next year;
  • Several ministers have expressed “grave doubt” Dublin will exit level-three restrictions after the stated three-week period.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin led opposition calls yesterday for the ban on rent evictions to be reintroduced and for the PUP to return to €350 a week.

Mr Ó Broin said the justification used in July was that the economy was opening up and the virus was less of a threat.

“They said they could no longer justify constitutionally at the ban on evictions those to quit and rent increases," said Mr Ó Broin. 

"We didn't agree with that at the time, but we're actually now in a worse place in terms of the level of restrictions than we were back in July. So they should be reintroduced and introduced immediately."

Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing Eoin Ó Broin. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing Eoin Ó Broin. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

In response, a spokesperson for Mr O’Brien said he is keeping the targeted measures introduced in the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 under review. 

“The protections provided in the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020, which came into effect on August 1, protect tenants negatively affected by Covid-19 and who are experiencing rent arrears from eviction/rent increases until January 11, 2021. These protections apply nationwide subject to the tenant making an appropriate declaration,” said the spokesperson.

“A strong effort is being made to communicate the new rental protections for tenants in rent arrears to the public and to highlight the availability of income support, such as rent supplement."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the rise in Covid-19 cases in Donegal, Louth, and Waterford is a “cause for concern” and is being “monitored closely”.

Amid growing speculation the three counties will move to a higher level of restrictions, Mr Martin said a move from level two to level three is “a significant move” and not done lightly.

Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk, Mr Martin said he and the Government will wait for advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) before any decision is taken.

“Certainly, Louth, Donegal, and Waterford are giving rise for concern, and the CMO has said this to us and obviously, that will be closely monitored and it is a significant decision to move up to level three for any county. So that would be carefully considered. NPHET will advise Government in relation to those counties, and the broader situation,” Mr Martin said.

A further 188 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported by NPHET on Monday, 76 of them in Dublin.

This brings to 33,121 the total number of cases linked to the virus in the Republic. No new deaths were reported, leaving the total number of deaths at 1,792.

More in this section