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Bill preventing evictions from taking place during Level 5 passes all Oireachtas stages

The Bill will now be sent to the President for early signature.

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien
Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

A BILL WHICH will prevent evictions from taking place during the period of Level 5 restrictions has passed all stages of the Oireachtas. 

Yesterday, Ireland moved into Level 5 restrictions for six weeks in response to an alarming surge in Covid-19 cases. 

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien brought the emergency legislation through the Oireachtas this week on the back of the introduction of the new restrictions. 

It has since passed all stages in the Dáil and Seanad and will be signed into law by President Michael D Higgins. 

The Bill modifies the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to prevent any notices of termination served by landlords from taking effect during the period of Level 5 restrictions. 

During the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in Ireland, a range of protections were put in place for people affected by the pandemic.

The rental protections during the emergency period included the ban on eviction notices and rent increases. These protections ended on 1 August. 

Those measures were then replaced by new rental laws - the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 – that protect tenants economically affected by Covid-19 who have fallen into rent arrears and who are at risk of losing their tenancy. Those rental laws apply until 10 January 2021. 

Commenting on today’s development, Minister O’Brien said: “This new Bill will ensure that in future, where severe restrictions on peoples’ movement are imposed, these protections would automatically kick in.”

He confirmed that a ‘grace-period’ will also be built into the Bill whereby a person cannot be evicted in the 10 days following the lifting of restrictions. 

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“The Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020, which came into effect on 1 August, already protects tenants experiencing rent arrears due to Covid-19 from evictions and rent increases up to 10 January 2021. The protections under that Act apply nationwide, subject to the tenant making an appropriate declaration,” Minister O’Brien said. 

“This new Residential Tenancies Bill is now needed to protect all tenants from eviction while their movement is severely restricted. These protections will apply any time that severe restrictions are placed on people’s movement.” 

National housing charity Threshold earlier this week welcomed the prospect of the reintroduction of a ban on evictions.

“Once the moratorium on evictions came to an end in August this year, the number of tenants requiring Threshold’s assistance with notices of termination increased, and went back almost to 2019 levels,” Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty said.

“It was a return to business as usual for tenants, not knowing if they could count on having a home in a few weeks or months. This will be compounded by an anticipated significant rise in unemployment, meaning that more households will have reduced incomes.” 

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