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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Legal Loophole Being Used By Landlords Trying To Evict Tenants, Dail Hears

Landlords are exploiting a legal loophole in the legislation to evict tenants from Dublin rental properties, two TDs claim.

Labor leader Ivana Bacik told Dail that 35 families in Kilmainham were under threat of eviction, as were tenants from 20 apartments in Rathmines, despite the government’s temporary ban on evictions.

Ms Bacik said some of them had called on the Irish prime minister to intervene, adding that housing should not be a “commodity”.

These landlords, she said, are taking advantage of “what can only be described as a legal loophole in section 35a of the Residential Tenancies Act to take these families and individuals’ homes away from them,” even though the Tyrelstown agreement ruling apparently prohibits or seeks to limit large-scale expulsion.

We need greater protections for renters in these situationsIvana Bachik

Ms Bacik said these landlords were using the loophole to claim “undue hardship” if they continued to sell properties in situ with tenants.

“We need greater protections for renters in this situation,” she said.

“We need to make sure that people who rent for families who are evicted from their homes as a result of these evictions bear undue hardship and that is a priority in our laws, not undue hardship clauses for landlords. Homes should not be a commodity.”

Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin said housing was the most important issue facing the country, adding that the problem could not be solved by any one department.

“Housing is the number one most pressing social issue facing our country. In my view, access to housing is critical to the security, stability, or health and progress of a country, and there is hardly a single household in this country that has not been affected by the crisis,” said Mr. Martin.

He told TD that a number of protections had been passed in the House after the minister introduced the legislation.


Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin (Liam McBurney/PA)

“We need to look at those who have the specific concerns you’ve raised, and the two cases you’ve raised, to see if further steps can be taken to address the loopholes you’ve described,” Mr Martin said.

“But within the framework of the Tyrelstown Amendment there has to be a balance to ensure that we don’t get it wrong constitutionally. But having said that, our aim and motivation is to protect tenants to the greatest extent possible.”

He added: “We’re going to review this to see if any further action can be taken. Of course … if it’s exploited in the wrong way, basically, we’re going to have to deal with it.”

The government signed an eviction moratorium in October, which took effect last month and will last until April 1, in an effort to give tenants better protection amid the cost-of-living crisis.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the government had failed to address the homelessness crisis and tenants who were threatened with eviction had done nothing wrong.

Afraid to highlight the suffering of these people in the gallery is appallingRichard Boyd TD

He said some of those families are in the Dell Public Gallery.

“These families have done nothing wrong when they are evicted by their landlord, who has been a tenant for many years and earns a huge rent of about 750,000 euros a year, but now faces the possibility of eviction and living on the streets. They are afraid. This is what they are That’s why we’re here,” Mr Boyd Barrett said.

He added that he had brought in some residents from St Helens Court who he said had been evicted by two different vulture funds for four years.

“The fear of highlighting the suffering of these people in the gallery is appalling,” he said.

Earlier, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said “housing is an emergency”, but argued that calling it that would not “build any houses”.


Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Damien Storan/PA)

He said Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien and his department were “caught up” every day by the need to act, but other departments also needed to “do their part”.

“Housing is a priority. It’s a crisis. It’s a social disaster,” Mr Varadkar told reporters at an event in Dun Laoghaire, south Dublin.

“But just calling those things doesn’t build any houses.

“Our role in government is to make sure our plans are delivered and accelerated.”

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