In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, landlords and tenants around the country anxiously awaited the renewal of the eviction ban. While the moratorium provided temporary relief for renters struggling to make ends meet, a recent lapse in the ban has made thousands of notices to quit go live. As landlords move forward with eviction proceedings, tenants find themselves once again facing the very real threat of losing their homes. This article will examine the factors that led to the expiration of the eviction ban, the implications for both renters and property owners, and potential solutions for those caught in the crosshairs of the housing crisis.
On March 31st, the ban on ‘no-fault’ evictions in Ireland ended, allowing landlords to issue eviction notices to tenants. The decision, made by the Irish government, has been met with criticism from housing and homelessness campaigners and opposition politicians. According to figures from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), around 3,000 notices to quit that were reported to the board by landlords in Q3 of 2020 will become effective in April without the protection of the eviction ban. It is expected that this figure will rise, potentially by as much as 1,000, when figures from Q4 of 2020 are released by the RTB shortly.
The ban, which prevented landlords from evicting people even if a valid notice of termination was issued, was implemented on October 30th, 2020, and was not extended beyond March 31st, 2021. Housing charities and opposition politicians criticized the move, stating that it will result in thousands of renters facing weeks of uncertainty and potential homelessness. Many renters may have to move in with family and friends or present themselves for emergency accommodation. In some cases, tenants may be forced to overstay in properties, leading to illegal evictions.
The Sinn Féin housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, stated that the decision will leave many families in a desperate situation, and it will likely worsen in the upcoming months. Meanwhile, Fr. Peter McVerry described the end of the eviction ban as a “nightmare.”
However, the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, defended the decision, stating that continuing with the ban would result in “more and more properties being lost, making a difficult situation worse.” The government believes that measures introduced to mitigate the effects of the end of the ban, such as the tenant purchase scheme, will kick in, although there are concerns about how quickly purchases can be made.
The RTB figures indicate that while eviction notices will become effective in April, the number of people accessing emergency housing has slightly fallen. In February, the number fell to 11,742 compared to January, prompting campaigners to claim the eviction ban was working. However, the number of single adults and people in Dublin increased. The number of adults without children is at a record high of 5,736, reflecting a lack of affordable one-bedroom housing.
Homeless campaigners and service providers are now preparing for a surge in contacts from individuals facing eviction notices, who may struggle to secure alternative accommodation. The government has defended its decision, arguing that the eviction ban had already been extended and that the measures in place will be sufficient to mitigate the impacts. However, many remain concerned that the situation will result in a rise in homelessness in the country, particularly among vulnerable populations, including families and single adults.