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'An absolute scandal': Tenants could face eviction for not paying water charges

Richard Boyd Barrett has said the measure is “draconian”.

Richard Boyd Barrett
Richard Boyd Barrett
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

RICHARD BOYD BARRETT has said it’s an “absolute scandal” that landlords could evict tenants for not paying water charges.

The People Before Profit TD was responding to amendments tabled by the government in relation to the Environment (Miscellaneous) Provisions Bill.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Boyd Barrett said the “most draconian” and “nasty” of the amendments is that “tenancy agreements will now require people to pay water charges”.

“If you can’t pay your water charges, you could face eviction. That is outrageous, absolutely outrageous. You’re faced with a choice: water or a roof over your head.”

Boyd Barrett said the situation is an “absolute scandal” and “more bullying tactics from this government”, who he accused of trying to ram through the legislative changes.

He said the new rules will “essentially force” local authorities to become “debt collectors for Irish Water”, adding the measures will only affect new tenants.

The new amendments include:

  • Obligations on property owners to provide information to Irish Water on the occupiers of the property within 20 days of the start of a tenancy;
  • An obligation, in all new tenancy agreements, for the occupier/tenant to pay water charges, other than in short-term lets where the landlord may retain this liability;
  • An obligation on the owner of a property to pay any water charges owing to Irish Water on the sale of a dwelling;
  • The establishment of a water services database to facilitate the payment of the water conservation grant in 2016 and subsequent years; Provision for an Approved Housing Body in certain circumstances to receive the water conservation grant on behalf of the tenant.

“Couldn’t be further from the truth”

Junior Environment Minister Paudie Coffey said Boyd Barrett’s claim about pushing the law through without sufficient debate “couldn’t be further from the truth”.

Speaking on the same programme, he said:

There’s no surprises here, what we’re bringing is certainty and clarity for landlords and tenants. To be fair to people who are compliant, we need to have some sanction or enforcement to ensure that those that are not compliant and are refusing to pay that they do pay.

When asked if a tenant could be evicted for not paying their water bill, he said this was an issue between them and their landlord.

Social Housing Strategy launch - Dublin Paudie Coffey Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Coffey encouraged people to register with Irish Water before Tuesday, 30 June, in order to ensure they are eligible for the €100 water conservation grant, which he said will be paid to households by the end of the year.

Boyd Barrett described the water grant system as “shambolic”, stating: “It isn’t very clear when we’re going to get it, it isn’t very clear who’s going to get it.”

The Dún Laoghaire TD accused the government of trying to push the issue down the road until after the general election, to avoid “a crisis” or protests.

He said the fact Irish Water won’t reveal how many people have paid suggests “a huge number” of people are boycotting the charges.

Coffey said he expects the semi-state utility to make these figures public in the coming weeks, adding that he’s confident “the vast majority of people will be compliant”.

Read: Catherine Murphy claims there have been secret changes to the water charges bill

Read: If you want your water meter tested, it could cost you an extra €100

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Órla Ryan

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