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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Alamy Stock Photo Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said a winter eviction ban would just "store up the problem" for Spring.

Winter eviction ban being kept under review, says Taoiseach

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has consulted with the AG on the issue.

THE INTRODUCTION OF a ban on evictions this winter is being kept under review by Government, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said. 

Speaking to reporters at the inaugural summit of the “European Political Community” in Prague, he said Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien had consulted with the attorney general about a ban.

It is understood the Department of Housing is in consultation with the AG’s office, but the minister is very conscious of need to carefully assess whether restricting property rights would be the subject of a legal challenge or would lead to more ordinary landlords leaving the system.

There are also concerns interference could jeopardise continued investment in the rental accommodation market.

Micheál Martin said today: “We did have an eviction, a ban on evictions during Covid-19 and there was a legal framework work that underpinned that because of the various restrictions that were brought into play in respect of Covid-19 in terms of mobility and people being restricted in terms of capacity to move, essentially.

“And so we brought in an eviction ban on that occasion, because there are legal issues that have to be resolved to facilitate any such eviction ban.

And I know that the minister for housing has had discussions on that and keeps this under ongoing review with the Attorney General and then, as I said yesterday, as well in the Dáil to balance that with making sure we have supply in the market as well in terms of we are concerned about landlords leaving the market, but certainly we are going through a very significant energy crisis at the moment.
Prices are very, very high and that does provide a context so we’ll see how things evolve on that front.

Constitutional issues at play 

At the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis last weekend, the Taoiseach told The Journal that there were circumstances during the pandemic that “made it constitutionally allowable to do what we did in relation to banning evictions”, adding that it is “not as clear cut in a non-Covid situation”. 

He denied that the Government’s inaction on the measure was out of fear of court challenges, stating: “It’s not a fear, you are advised on the constitutionality or not of a measure.”

He said there’s a balance to be struck with eviction bans, stating that many landlords are saying it’s not worth their while to be in the market due to the various restrictions that are already in place.

“But there’s a balance to be struck, we don’t want to reduce the supply of tenancies any further, either. So that’s the balance. But there’s also the constitutional issue. It’s not a fear, just a reality,” he added. 

A number of opposition parties have been calling for an eviction ban, with TDs in many parties stating that their constituency offices are filling up with people with notice to quit evictions that are due to come into effect in the winter and new year.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said a winter eviction ban would just “store up the problem” for Spring.

He said evictions are relatively uncommon in Ireland and if someone gets a notice to quit, they have a period of time before they have to leave the property. 

“I think the difficulty with a ban on evictions is that it stores up the problem for when you lift the ban. And that’s part of what we’re experiencing now. So I know some people say you have a blanket ban over the winter period, but what then happens in the spring? It doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. It just defers and makes it worse a little bit later,” he added. 

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