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Government still deciding on extending eviction ban for fear of 'making matters worse'

Jack Chambers said that extending the ban could lead to a surge in landlords leaving the market and evicting tenants when the ban eventually ends.

MINISTER OF STATE Jack Chambers has said that the government is still considering whether or not to extend the eviction ban beyond April, but a decision must be balanced in order to prevent landlords leaving the market.

Figures released yesterday show that homelessness has hit a record high for the seventh month in a row, despite the eviction ban being in place since November.

A total of 8,323 adults and 3,431 children were living in emergency accommodation during the week of 23 to 29 January.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Saturday with Colm Ó Mongain, Chambers said that the government is weighing options carefully in order to “get the balance right.”

“I think the eviction ban played an important role to the winter period,” he said.

“And certainly I think the the underlying homelessness figures would have been worse if it wasn’t for that government decision that was taken,” the Fianna Fáil TD said.

“We don’t want to make any decision which could make matters worse.”

“There is a concern that in the medium term, if we were to extend the ban for a very short period, that it could exacerbate the underlying difficulties that we have within the rental market,” he said.

Chambers added that there were 21,000 home sales last year for landlords and 7,500  purchases by landlords, which he described as “an exodus of rental properties leaving the market”.

He stated that the government was wary that if the ban was extended beyond April it could exacerbate the number of notices to quit that could be issued when the ban eventually does end and landlords seek to sell their properties.

“There won’t be a cliff edge on the first of April, as people will be aware that that legislation extends notices to quit depending on the length of tenure in that particular property out to the summer in some cases,” Chambers explained.

Sinn Féin senator Lynn Boylan, who also appeared on the show, said that the trend of landlords leaving the market began years ago.

“The eviction ban and the need for an eviction ban is a symptom of a housing disaster that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have presided over. We know that landlords had been leaving the market since 2017, long before an eviction ban came into place,” she said.

“The local authorities should be compelled to buy properties when landlords sell.”

Chambers argued that Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien had already told local authorities to do this, with Boylan replying:

“The issue is that the minister has not given clear instructions to all local authorities that they need to prioritise HAP and RAS tenants. If you look at the data Jack, you will see that it is inconsistent across the local authorities.”

“Some authorities are doing it, some aren’t doing it enough. Some are taking far too long and waiting about five months by which time the house is sold and the tenant is facing homelessness,” she said.

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