1,100 households given eviction notices despite ban on people losing their homes 

1,100 households given eviction notices despite ban on people losing their homes 

Since last August, 3,800 households have been served with rent arrears warning notices while 1,122 have been issued with notices of termination of their rental tenancy.

More than 1,100 households have been served with eviction notices over the last 10 months despite a Government ban on people losing their homes.

There are now fears that thousands of families and individuals could be forced to leave their rented accommodation as the ban on evictions has lifted and just 475 have sought Government protection over inability to pay rent due to Covid-19.

Figures seen by the Irish Examiner from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) show that since last August, 3,800 households have been served with rent arrears warning notices while 1,122 have been issued with notices of termination of their rental tenancy.

Landlords have been able to proceed with evictions against tenants from April 23, following the lifting of the 5km rule on non-essential travel on April 12.

According to the latest homelessness figures from the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, 14 of the 79 families presenting as homeless for the first time in April came from the private rented sector.

Rent arrears due to Covid-19

Tenants can avoid being evicted or any increase in their rent until January 2022, if they can prove they are in rent arrears due to Covid-19 and at risk of losing their tenancy. Just 475 out of almost 4,000 people in rental arrears have done so.

"While the numbers directly invoking this legal protection have been small, it has provided a strong safety net to vulnerable renters, while recognising and balancing the rights of landlords who, equally, may be in financial difficulty during this unprecedented period," a Department of Housing spokesman said.

The number of people who received a rent arrears warning notice increased month on month from August, with a slight dip in the Christmas period, and in total 3,810 households were in financial difficulty with their landlord by May 2021.

The number of eviction notices often mirrors the State's lockdown restrictions, with just 59 sent out in January at the height of the level 5 lockdown, and steadily increasing as restrictions continued to unwind. Last month alone, 170 households were served with a notice of termination.

The most common reason given for the termination of a rental agreement was that the "landlord intends on selling the property".

Last month, 488 households received a rental arrears notice, while only 20 made self-declarations to receive Government help.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said: "It is very concerning that over 1,000 notices to quit have been issued in the last 10 months, with a significant increase in the numbers since March." 

He said given that the ban on evictions linked to the 5km travel restriction ended on April 22, "it is likely that many of these notices will start working through the system".

"This could result in an increase in the number of families presenting as homeless and accessing emergency accommodation," Mr Ó Broin said. 

"Almost 4,000 rent warnings have been issued in the last 10 months. Yet despite the number of tenants struggling with their rent, just 475 renters have availed of [Housing Minister] Darragh O’Brien's extremely limited Covid-19 written declaration protection. This proves beyond any doubt that his limited protection for renters isn’t working."

Reintroduce original ban on rent increases

He said there is an urgent need for the minister to reintroduce the original ban on rent increases, notices to quit and evictions until the end of the year at a minimum.

The Department of Housing said: "The most vulnerable tenants – those in rent arrears due to Covid-19 and at risk of losing their tenancy – will continue to be protected from evictions and rent increases until January 2022.

"These enhanced tenancy protections are there to complement the provision of rent supplement and other supports such as the supplementary welfare allowance and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment – providing time and security for tenants while they engage with the available State services."

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