Housing charity Threshold dealt with more than 100 illegal evictions this year, despite a moratorium on tenancy terminations.
That’s according to the group's 2020 annual report, released today.
The report also reveals how Threshold advised on another 300 invalid notices of termination in 2020 - despite additional protections introduced for renters as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
All of these actions occurred between March and August, when the first moratorium was in place.
Threshold says that in some cases, tenants came home to their accommodation with locks changed and their belongings still inside the property.
The charity says that more than one-third of all renters who sought its assistance in 2019 had received a notice of termination from their landlord. Of these, 45% had received the notice because their landlord had planned to sell the property.
“During the most recent five-week moratorium, introduced alongside Level 5 restrictions in October, we had to intervene in 17 illegal or threatened evictions and advised on 69 invalid notices,” said Threshold Chairperson, Aideen Hayden
The group estimates that it prevented 8,351 households from entering homelessness last year.
However, Threshold believes this is just a fraction of the tenants who were threatened by homelessness during 2020.
In total, Threshold carried out 82,357 actions on behalf of renters in 2019.
The group went on to represent 343 households at the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and provided 1,278 outreach consultations.
“Under Section 34 of the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord is permitted to evict a tenant for the purpose of sale, refurbishment, own use, change of use and in some instances for no reason – all where there has been no wrongdoing on the part of the tenant,” Ms Hayden said.
The removal of no-fault evictions from the Residential Tenancies Act was "vital" if renting in Ireland is to become a "viable, sustainable tenure choice, on par with homeownership and social housing,” Ms Hayden added.
Almost two-thirds of those who sought help from Threshold were employed, and 75% were aged between 25 and 44.
“This tells us that the profile of renters in Ireland is changing,” Ms Hayden said.
“It shows that renting is no longer just a transitional tenure for students and young people, before they buy their own home or secure social housing.
“Where it is an option, under-25s may still be living at home with their parents as they cannot afford to rent. We can also see a growing cohort of people without children in the private rented sector.
"These may all be indicators of delayed independence and family formation as renting is not a secure or reliable housing option.”
To illustrate difficulties being faced by tenants in Ireland’s private rented sector Threshold’s report also includes the story of one of their clients, Noirin.
Noirin, who is self-employed and aged in her 50s, has been renting since losing her home following the financial crash.
During the five years Noirin has been renting her current home, she has reported numerous standards and repairs issues to her landlord’s agent, to no avail.
Following a recent dispute with the agent, Noirin reached out to Threshold.
An advisor for the charity reassured Noirin of her position and informed her of her rights as a tenant, many of which she had not been aware.
“I wrongly believed that I had to put up with many issues as rentals are so scarce. I have been paying a huge rent of €1,200 per month and tolerating what I consider to be dangerous conditions – below the minimum standards – in an effort to simply keep a roof over my head," Noirin said.
"This will be the first Christmas in five years, that I will have a safe, working cooker and functioning heaters in the bathroom and bedroom.
The knowledge that you have someone to rely on and someone on your side, waiting to advise, that really helps,” she added.