Government examines winter eviction ban alongside tax measures to support landlords

'Concern' expressed about numbers of landlords selling up
Government examines winter eviction ban alongside tax measures to support landlords

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien consulted the attorney general about a limited ban. Picture: Mark Stedman

A ban on evictions this winter, coupled with corresponding tax measures to support landlords, is now being examined by the Government.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed that Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has consulted with the attorney general about a ban on evictions which would be introduced for a limited period.

However, he said any such move would have to be balanced by ensuring there is supply in the market as the Government is "concerned" about the numbers of landlords who are selling up.

While Fianna Fáil is supportive of the measure to protect renters from eviction, Fine Gael is less open to such a move, with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar suggesting it would simply store up problems.

It comes after a group of Fianna Fáil TDs called in recent days for an eviction ban to prevent more people being forced into homelessness this winter.

A senior Government source said that if an eviction ban is cleared by the AG there will be a "strong desire" to introduce a "corresponding measure, something else for landlords".

Among the key considerations now being examined by the AG are any issues that may arise relating to property rights.

However, one source suggested that if a ban was time-limited, which would echo the temporary nature of the pandemic eviction moratorium, then this might overcome any constitutional issues.

Sources add that tax measures for landlords would be introduced as part of the Finance Bill before Christmas and cited a Department of Finance 2017 paper which examined a number of changes that could be introduced for those involved in the rental market.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the energy crisis provides a 'context' for an eviction ban but Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said a winter ban would 'store up the problem' for spring. Picture: PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the energy crisis provides a 'context' for an eviction ban but Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said a winter ban would 'store up the problem' for spring. Picture: PA

Asked about the reintroduction of an eviction ban, Mr Martin said there was a legal framework that underpinned an eviction ban during the pandemic because of restrictions in terms of mobility.

“We brought in an eviction ban on that occasion because there are legal issues that have to be resolved to facilitate any such eviction ban," he said.

"The minister for housing has had discussions on that and keeps this under ongoing review with the attorney general.

Certainly, we are going through a very significant energy crisis at the moment. Prices are very, very high and that does provide a context, so we'll see how things evolve on that front.

However, Fine Gael sources have said an incentive is required for landlords to stay in the market if an eviction ban is introduced as they fear the measure may impact supply.

In the Dáil, Mr Varadkar said a winter eviction ban would just “store up the problem” for spring. 

“It doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. It just defers and makes it worse a little bit later," he said.

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