Local TDs must explain 'shameful' decision to end eviction ban - Tully

Local TDs are being put under pressure to justify the government’s lifting of an eviction ban.

Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Pauline Tully has labelled the decision to end the moratorium as “shameful” and warns it could “plunge people into homelessness in a matter of weeks”.

The ‘temporary eviction moratorium’ came into effect on October 31 last and will expire on March 31 at the end of the six-month “winter emergency period”.

The Government announced on Tuesday that the ban would be lifted at the end of this month, despite calls from housing charities and all of the main opposition parties for it to be extended in light of the housing crisis.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have said the ban is driving landlords out of the private rental sector, which is reducing the number of properties available to rent and driving up prices. Deputy Tully is unimpressed. “The housing crisis is devastating lives across Cavan-Monaghan as people cannot afford sky high rents or find suitable accommodation because of this government’s failure to get to grips with the crisis.

“Government TDs in Cavan-Monaghan must come forward and explain to people in Cavan-Monaghan why they have backed ending the eviction ban. They need to be upfront with people about this shocking decision,” she told the Celt this week.

Deputy Tully feels more should have been done during the moratorium to tackle the housing crisis.

“We [Sinn Féin] urged them to expand the tenant in situ scheme, to extend it to affordable cost rental, to use emergency planning and procurement powers, to target vacant and derelict properties and new building technologies, to increase and accelerate the delivery of social and affordable homes.

“Shockingly, the government ignored these solutions and instead ended the ban without addressing these issues,” she scathed.

“It is clear that the housing market in Cavan-Monaghan is totally unfit for purpose and ordinary people are left to pay the price. Year after year, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have missed their own inadequate public housing targets. The result is clear to see in Cavan-Monaghan as we have generations locked out of home ownership, crippled by sky high rents, languishing on social housing waiting lists and being forced to emigrate,” lambasted Deputy Tully.

Citing the “misery” the housing crisis is causing some people, the TD said a Sinn Fein government would deliver “genuinely affordable homes” for people.

Housing charity Threshold is also warning that “unprecedented numbers” of adults and children could now become homeless.

CEO John-Mark McCafferty said that the organisation is working with people who are “genuinely fearful” of where they will be living once their notice is up.

In 2022, Threshold became aware of 5,444 newly-created termination cases, 57% of which were issued due to the landlord selling, and in 17% of such cases, the landlord and/or family member moving in.

The ban on evictions is not a “silver bullet”, said Mr McCafferty. It was intended to provide “breathing space” for positive changes and improvements in supply to take place. “Unfortunately, we are yet to see the outcome of Government action in this respect. The decision to end the ban at the end of this month will likely make a bad situation worse. It is disappointing and detrimental,” he said.

“Evidence from the Residential Tenancies Board and our frontline staff indicates a significant number of evictions are pending,” added Mr McCafferty, who also said that local authorities are struggling to provide emergency accommodation.

He said that some of the measures announced – such as an offer of first refusal to buy a property - may help some renters. “However many would not be in a position to do this given the exorbitant cost of rent and the inability of people to save the significant deposits required as a result. Threshold does welcome the proposal for Approved Housing Bodies to purchase homes with the tenant-in-situ and the delivery of these on a cost rental basis,” said the CEO. The Irish Property Owners’ Association (IPOA), the representative body for landlords, was strongly against the introduction of the ban back in October.

Mary Conway, chair of the IPOA, welcomed the lifting of the ban.

“The Government has already introduced four versions of it over the past number of years and it has had no discernible impact whatsoever on homelessness figures – in fact the opposite is true,” she said.

Chief Executive of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) David Carroll said the charity is bracing itself for the weeks ahead as many people face homelessness when the eviction ban ends.

He is calling on landlords to delay evictions where possible and to make use of existing schemes, such as the tenant-in-situ scheme and the first refusal scheme.