Threshold has called on the Government to extend the ban on evictions until March after it revealed it dealt with an average of 11 calls a day during Christmas week.
The national housing charity said it received 78 calls from renters to its freephone helpline - an increase of 28% on the same period in 2019.
In the week from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day, the single busiest day was December 28 when Threshold received 21 calls from renters. One call was made to the charity on Christmas Day.
Of the calls received, just over a quarter related to tenancy termination, with other queries including some on standards of properties and HAP or rent supplement.
Half the calls came from Dublin renters and the rest from 11 other counties, and many were first-time callers to Threshold.
John-Mark McCafferty, CEO of Threshold said: “The volume of calls made to Threshold’s helpline during Christmas week illustrates the crisis that private tenants in Ireland are facing, even in spite of the protections introduced in 2020. Tenancy terminations and standards and repairs continue to present as persistent issues.
“In light of reports that the current Level 5 restrictions are likely to be extended past the end of January, Threshold is calling for the extension of the blanket moratorium on evictions into March at the earliest. This would provide some certainty to those in the private rented sector, many of whom remain in precarious circumstances.”
One Threshold client, who the charity named Rowena, was served with a notice of termination just three days before Christmas. The healthcare worker was expected by her landlord to leave the property on New Year's Day and Threshold said that as a licensee (renting a room in her landlord's home), her tenure is not covered by the moratorium on evictions.
The charity secured an extension until February 10.
A New Year’s Day caller faced becoming homeless after his landlord wanted him to vacate the property where he has lived for five years after being told it was in receivership and was to be sold. Threshold secured his tenancy until he can find alternative lodgings.
Chairperson of Threshold, Aideen Hayden said: “The moratoriums on evictions have worked to stem the flow of people from the private rented sector into homelessness. However, licensees still have no protection under the Residential Tenancies Act or these moratoriums.
In just five months our web chat service has responded to a staggering 4,258 queries from people who need our help.— Threshold (@ThresholdIRE) January 12, 2021
A huge thank you to each and every Threshold supporter for making this possible. 👏#makingadifference pic.twitter.com/PR315YS8vR
"This leaves an entire cohort of renters completely vulnerable to eviction and without recourse if they have been treated unfairly. We believe that licensees should be afforded protections under the Residential Tenancies Act, similar to what has been done for residents of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation.
“While the protections introduced in 2020 have provided relief to many, it is clear to see that they have not made renters’ problems disappear altogether. We would appeal to any renter in distress to contact Threshold’s freephone helpline for support from our expert housing advisors.”
The Threshold’s helpline is open during business hours at 1800 454 454 - www.threshold.ie/advice/help