A ban on evicting tenants to sell houses is needed to combat a new wave of family homelessness, Sinn Féin has said.
The party’s housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, also repeated calls for a three-year rent freeze and said the Government must invest millions to deliver thousands of cost-rental accommodation units.
It comes after a Daft.ie report showed that rents have risen 5.6 per cent in a year, while there are fewer than 800 homes available for rent outside Dublin, by far the lowest figure on record.
https://t.co/GDM3M4VQ23 report makes for very grim reading. @EOBroin says Gov't must immediately:
🏠 Invest major capital in affordable cost rental units;
🏠 Ban rent increases for 3 years;
🏠 Refundable tax credit worth a month's rent;
🏠 Ban vacant possession notices to quit pic.twitter.com/FJWgSJ2TzuAdvertisement
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) August 10, 2021
Mr Ó Broin warned that the use of vacant possession notices – orders for tenants to leave a property so it can be sold – is on the increase, which will drive up family homelessness.
He said: “Crucially, one of the big concerns we have is, in the last quarter, data from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) shows that the number of vacant possession notices to quit, of landlords selling properties, has dramatically increased – it’s now exceeding pre-Covid levels.
“What does that mean? That means the single largest cause of family homelessness before the pandemic is returning again.
“As those notices to quit are worked through the system, we’re likely to see an increase in family homelessness and children, as reported in the papers today.”
The latest available figures for June show that homelessness levels have risen above 8,000, with charities warning of increases in family homelessness.
There were 5,847 adults and 2,167 children in emergency accommodation – a total of 8,014 people.
Focus Ireland director of advocacy Mike Allen said at the time: “The increase in family homelessness in June is a stark reminder of how precarious the progress in tackling homelessness really is.”
Mr Ó Broin said that while rents have “flatlined” in Dublin, the expected move back to office work will see them rise again.
In the capital, rents rose for the second consecutive quarter, by 1.4 per cent between March and June, but are just 0.5 per cent above the level seen a year ago.
Focus Ireland amendment
He called for a return to the Focus Ireland amendment, which called for an end to evictions of tenants in buy-to-let properties that were being sold or repossessed.
“We have to have a ban on vacant possession notices to quit. If landlords who bought their properties with Section 23 tax rates back in the Celtic Tiger want to sell the properties, that’s no problem,” Mr Ó Broin said.
“But you sell them with a tenant in situ. That means there’s an increased likelihood that that property will be bought by another landlord.”
Mr Ó Broin said he does not believe the Government’s claim that a ban on rent increases would be unconstitutional, adding that he would fight the issue in court if he were minister.
🆘New rents rise for the 36th quarter in a row
🆘16 counties have double digit inflation
🆘All counties bar Dublin have rent increases of >7%
🆘Govt has no plan to increase rental supply or halt rent rises
Read the full @daftmedia report here https://t.co/RiDLAccc7u pic.twitter.com/I5TebqMVyeAdvertisement
— Eoin Ó Broin (@EOBroin) August 10, 2021
He added: “Let’s be very clear – a ban on rent increases doesn’t take any money out of any landlord’s pockets.
“Rents are higher than they have ever been. Higher than at the peak of the Celtic Tiger.
“So, if anybody is seriously telling me that a landlord entering the rental market now can’t make a reasonable return with rents where they are, (he) just doesn’t understand the dynamics of the rental market.”
In response to the Daft.ie report, a Housing Department spokesman said: “The Housing For All plan, to be published shortly, will build on commitments in the Programme for Government and provide a road map, with a whole-of-government approach, towards a housing system that gives us the sustainable supply we need, at a price that people can afford, with appropriate options for all.”