Covid-19: Ban on evictions to be linked to 5km travel restriction

Under the bill, any time a travel restriction is imposed nationally because of public health regulations from the health minister, the ban will come into place. 
Covid-19: Ban on evictions to be linked to 5km travel restriction

The ban will only apply at a national lockdown and only if the travel restriction is 5km. Officials have told the opposition that this is to ensure some functionality in the market.

The moratorium on evictions will be linked to the five-kilometre travel restriction when it is enacted on Saturday.

Under the bill, any time a travel restriction is imposed nationally because of public health regulations from the health minister, the ban will come into place. 

This will ensure that the ban is always linked to the restrictions and negate the need for new legislation.

The ban will only apply at a national lockdown and only if the travel restriction is 5km. Officials have told the opposition that this is to ensure some functionality in the market.

It will be made law through a bill being prepared by Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien. 

It will go through all stages of the Dáil tomorrow and all stages of the Seanad on Friday before being enacted on Saturday. 

Opposition parties will table amendments to the bill but had not seen it on Wednesday evening, ahead of the 9pm deadline for amendments.

Under the legislation, renters would be protected for the length of the lockdown, in this case six weeks, plus 10 days. 

This would allow those who receive a notice to quit have time to find new accommodation. Those who are told to leave their homes due to anti-social behaviour, damage or unauthorised use of a home will not be afforded the protections.

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin O Broin said the bill was "weak".

"The ban should be linking to other public health advice. There was a ban on visits to homes brought in last week, for example. If an apartment or house is being shown, that's a public health risk because you could have a number of people in your home in the day. Likewise, you could be in other homes or in a queue with others.

"There is also nothing around future county lockdowns. Let's say they put Dublin in lockdown, that could mean that people who live on the edges of the county like Blanchardstown could be evicted but not allowed go to Clonee or Leixlip to find accommodation. Clearly, where there is a county lockdown, a ban should be introduced.

"The other thing is that this is only linked to one health issue. There is still no recognition of the economic impact of Covid on the rental market."

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr O'Brien said he was bringing the legislation forward to ensure that public health was protected.

"In level 5, there is a restriction on movement within the 5km and one can only travel for essential purposes and obviously we want to ensure that we're doing everything we can to help people restrict their movements, so having people leaving one tenancy and going into another property, and viewing a property, that type of thing, would not be in the public health interest so that is why I am bringing these additional measures."

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