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Landlords need to recognise 'we're all in this together', says Regina Doherty

The Minister for Social Protection was speaking on RTÉ Radio One this morning.

Minister Regina Doherty called on landlords to recognise the difficulties people are facing.
Minister Regina Doherty called on landlords to recognise the difficulties people are facing.
Image: RollingNews.ie

THE GOVERNMENT MAY introduce new measures to support anyone who can’t afford to pay rent because of the Covid-19 crisis, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said today. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s morning Ireland Programme, Doherty called on landlords to recognise that we’re “all in this together”. 

Doherty acknowledged that people would find it difficult pay rent on €203 a week – the amount provided by the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to help people who have lost work because of the coronavirus outbreak.  

She said that 16,000 people at already applied for the payment. 

Housing minister Eoghan Murphy, she said, was still talking to landlord representative bodies and other groups and said potential new measures would be announced in the coming days. 

While she said rent supplement payments are there, she suggested that more drastic measures could be introduced in response to Covid-19. 

However, she also put the onus on landlords to show “forbearance”, echoing comments from Murphy over the weekend. 

“If people can’t afford to pay their rents, they’re not going to be able to magic up some money between now and the end of the month, the end of next month,” Doherty said.

“Everybody needs to be mindful and cognizant that we will get through this and come out the other end,” she said. 

“Screaming at people for money they don’t have is a futile exercise,” she added. 

Finance minister Paschal Donohoe is also set to meet with the five main banks to look at how pressure on people can be eased during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Already, 150,000 people have been put out of work by the lockdown and that figure is set to increase in the coming weeks. 

“We’re in this together. Somebody who doesn’t have anything more than 203 quid a week, they’re going to buy food,” Doherty said. 

Speaking on the same programme, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin called on Murphy to engage with opposition parties on the issue of rents and mortgages.

“No mortgage holder should be penalized for inability to pay their mortgage. No renter should be issued with a notice to quit because of inability to pay rent,” he said. 

There are currently 292 confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland. Ten new cases were announced in Northern Ireland yesterday, bringing the total number there to 62.

Last night, in an address to the nation, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that “everyone in our society must show solidarity in this time of national sacrifice”. 

“For those who have lost their jobs and had their incomes reduced temporarily… there must be help and understanding from those who can give it… particularly the banks… government bodies and utilities,” he said. 

‘No mortgage will be defaulted’

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said that during the crisis “we need to start from a position where no mortgage will be defaulted during this period, no renter will be evicted during this period, no family will have their utilities cut during this period”.

He said that supports needed to be provided to landlords “to make sure that their tenants can stay in their house without any fear of being evicted or indeed the additional pressure of having to pay rent when there is no income coming into the family”.

“We need to have a scenario where banks will extend loans and will allow for no payments for a time until we get over this crisis and that means that can be passed onto tenants,” he said. 

Doherty said that measures needed to be “proportionate”, adding that anyone who can still pay rent or a mortgage should continue to do so. 

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