Government could approve an eviction ban as early as Tuesday

Government could approve an eviction ban as early as Tuesday

The three Coalition party leaders are expected to agree to proceed with a temporary ban on evictions tonight (Monday) and it could be agreed by Cabinet tomorrow.  File picture

A ban on evictions will go before Cabinet as early as tomorrow if Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien gets the go-ahead from Coalition leaders, the Irish Examiner has learned.

The Government leaders are expected to decide tonight, Monday, about the ban which would likely be introduced in December and run until the end of March.

Senior Government sources also say Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, and Green party leader Eamon Ryan will hammer out changes to the controversial concrete levy at their meeting.

Mr Martin confirmed on Sunday that he expects Mr O’Brien to bring proposals to Cabinet soon and signalled the energy crisis could see it introduced.

“There are legal parameters within which one has to operate but we’re now going through a major energy crisis which is causing its own significant challenges,” he said.

It’s an unprecedented crisis in its scale particularly in terms of the price rises and the impact on people. 

It comes as the latest Locked Out report from the Simon Communities shows there are now effectively no properties for people to rent on the housing assistance payment (HAP) meaning those trying to exit homelessness or avoid emergency accommodation have little chance of finding a home.

The report, which analyses the number of available properties around the country, found that last month, there were just 392 properties available to rent at any price within the 16 areas surveyed.

However, there were no properties at all available within a standard HAP rate and just 35 within discretionary HAP rates.

As the Simon Communities launch their Locked Out report, spokesperson Wayne Stanley commented that the shortage of properties means more people are becoming homeless or remaining homeless for longer. File picture: Maxwells
As the Simon Communities launch their Locked Out report, spokesperson Wayne Stanley commented that the shortage of properties means more people are becoming homeless or remaining homeless for longer. File picture: Maxwells

Under HAP, councils make a monthly payment to a landlord on a tenant’s behalf and the tenant pays a weekly contribution towards the rent to the council. But the HAP tenants must find their own accommodation in the private rental market.

The latest statistics from Dublin Simon show it has seen a spike in the number of elderly people and those with jobs seeking help — as well as an increase in the number of families sleeping in garda stations.

Wayne Stanley, head of policy with the Simon Communities, said: “It is as dire as it has ever been.” He said the lack of properties will mean more people becoming homeless or remaining homeless for longer.

On Sunday night, a Cabinet source said an eviction ban is something that needs to be acted on quickly and a decision has to be made because it requires primary legislation.

“I would be surprised if the ban wasn’t before Cabinet on Tuesday and if it’s not, it will have to be next week.

“It’s the kind of issue that you can’t leave hanging there for weeks on end, that has been subject to speculation for a number of weeks and comments by people in Government.

“It’s not the kind of thing you can keep dangling, a decision has to be made.”

Another senior source said: “Work has been ongoing simultaneously while discussing it with the Attorney General. If the leaders give the ban the green light then it could be ready for Cabinet on Tuesday — that is the hope.”

The party leaders are also to make changes to the controversial 10% concrete levy before the Finance Bill is brought to Cabinet on Tuesday.

A Cabinet source said leaders will discuss narrowing the scope of the levy in terms of the nature of products it applies to as well as reducing the 10% rate and deferring it past next April when it is due to take effect.

They said: “Changes to all three aspects are being considered or a combination of some of those elements is probably where it will land ultimately.”

Meanwhile, a Green Party junior minister has confirmed that the Government is considering plans to charge people seeking refuge in Ireland a “nominal” fee for their accommodation.

Joe O’Brien said the plans are contained in a draft paper and said the fee would be paid by some people in direct provision and some Ukrainians who are in full-time employment.

However, the Taoiseach said yesterday: “We’re not contemplating charging Ukrainians.”

Mr O’Brien admitted there is pressure on accommodation for those seeking refuge and said some modular housing will be coming on stream later this month.

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