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Most evictions in Ireland are from rented homes - and we don't pay enough attention to them

There are few records kept on illegal evictions across the European Union, despite the high levels in some countries.

Image: eviction notice image via Shutterstock

MOST EVICTIONS IN this country are from private rented housing, a new study has pointed out, though there is less of a focus on them than on evictions from mortgaged properties.

The study, conducted by researchers at NUI Galway, said that while more than 200 illegal evictions from private rented housing were recorded in 2013 in Ireland, no criminal sanctions were applied.

Researchers found a large number of European countries do not have any records on illegal evictions at all, and indeed Ireland’s figure of 200 in 2013 accounts only for recorded evictions and may not be reflective of the actual scale of the problem.

Dr Padriac Kenna of NUI Galway said the report’s finding about high levels of rental evictions are “contrary to popular assumptions”.

Illegal evictions

He also said there is a “significant absence of research, data or reports on illegal evictions from the informal or black rental market, particularly in relation to documented and undocumented migrants, asylum-seekers, Roma, Travellers, some people with disabilities, and others”.

The report found that in Ireland, while there are high levels of arrears in mortgaged and social rented properties, there was a relatively low level of mortgage-related evictions cases. This level has, however, risen in recent years.

There were relatively high numbers of evictions – including illegal evictions – in the private rented sector.

“This and other research shows that evicted households initially seek help and support from family and friends,” Kenna explained.

Up to one quarter may eventually rely on homeless services, which are only widely available in north and western European countries and cities. The critical issue is preventing those evicted from becoming homeless.

Ireland’s Residential Tenancies Board was hailed in the report as an example of good practice when it comes to assisting and informing tenants – including those involved in illegal evictions.

Debt and legal advice provided by bodies such as the RTB are most effective in preventing rental evictions, the report found. It recommended rapid rehousing schemes, protected minimum incomes and the possibility of “fresh start” options as key factors for addressing the issue.

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