Cabinet warned extending eviction ban would represent a ‘breach of trust’ in landlords – The Irish Times

Ministers have been warned that the extension of the temporary eviction ban could be seen by landlords as a “serious breach of trust” and that such a move could lead to an exodus from the market.

Cabinet on Tuesday agreed to lift the ban on evictions at the end of March, prompting warnings from housing organizations of an impending spike in homelessness, as well as fierce criticism from the opposition but also resentment within the Greens.

Green Party Minister Catherine Martin is said to have raised issues with the move during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting after Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan said it was “completely the wrong decision” while blaming party leader Eamon Ryan for failing to “to talk about our politics”. maintain ban.

A senior source said that Ms Martin questioned during the cabinet meeting whether an extension had been considered until the necessary legislation was passed for measures to protect tenants if a landlord terminated a tenancy because of the sale of a house .

The government struggled on Tuesday night to explain a range of new protections it has promised renters. Much work still needs to be done on a new policy to give renters a “first refusal” for a property being sold by landlords. The Greens conceded in a circular to members that many details “still have to be worked out”.

Announcing the lifting of the ban on Tuesday, Housing Secretary Darragh O’Brien said it could “very likely” lead to an increase in homelessness. “That could be the case and therefore this decision is not being taken lightly.”

Sources said Mr O’Brien had told Cabinet that correspondence from the Attorney General’s office said any decision to extend the ban would require “substantive evidence and legal and political justifications”.

Ministers were also told that a legal challenge to the ban was underway and another challenge to an extension was expected.

Mr O’Brien told ministers he was “deeply concerned” that any extension could have a negative impact on the long-term rental supply and could also have a negative impact on landlords.

The minister told the cabinet that he was considering a range of other measures, such as a recurring annual winter eviction ban or a long-term extension of the eviction ban to up to two years. However, he said he thought it appropriate to phase it out.

Cabinet was also told in an Irish Times memo that the eviction ban constituted a “significant interference with property rights” and that the government was “deeply concerned” that landlords would view an extension as a “serious breach of trust by the government”.

This could “further erode their confidence in continuing their involvement and growing their investments in the rental market.”

“Any statutory expiry date for an extension would not be credible to the sector and would likely result in a significant number of landlords if allowed to do so,” the memo Mr O’Brien presented to Cabinet said.

Ministers were also warned that an extension would discredit future government emergency measures.

In response to concerns over landlord flight, ministers were presented with two reports, one by the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland which highlighted that up to 40 per cent of sales instructions in the last quarter of 2022 came from landlords who were selling. A recent report by Sherry FitzGerald was also quoted as saying that about 21,000 real estate transactions last year were made by investors selling their properties, with only 7,500 of them being bought by investors, leaving a net loss of 13,500 on rental stock.

Speaking in the Dáil, Green TD Patrick Costello called on the government to make public the Attorney General’s advice, cited as a factor in the decision not to continue the moratorium indefinitely.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar defended the government during leaders’ questions in the Dáil, saying the “finely balanced decision” was taken in the “general public interest”.

Mr Varadkar said the moratorium has not been effective in reducing homelessness as the number of people being provided with emergency shelters by the state is increasing each month the ban is in effect. However, the cabinet was told that there had been fewer family homeless presentations. Cabinet warned extending eviction ban would represent a ‘breach of trust’ in landlords – The Irish Times

Dais Johnston

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