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Housing minister to consult on whether rent freeze should be extended beyond 20 July

Tenants cannot be evicted and rent increases are prohibited for the duration of the crisis.

TDs called on the Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien to extend the evictions ban and rent freeze.
TDs called on the Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien to extend the evictions ban and rent freeze.
Image: LEAH FARRELL

HOUSING MINISTER DARRAGH O’Brien has said he will write to the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to ask if a further extension to the rent increase and eviction ban is merited.

During a debate on a Labour motion on rent arrears, the housing minister said that the initial ban on evictions and rent hikes was to last three months.

It was then extended to 20 July.

Under the emergency laws introduced at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the minister said tenants cannot be forced to leave a property, and rent increases are prohibited for the duration of the crisis.

The minister said the extension of the ban requires him to consult with the health minister and public expenditure minister. 

An extension of the ban can be considered if it is in the public interest to push the date out further, and if there is a threat to the public health.

Another aspect taken into consideration is if the virus remains highly contagious and if a restriction on the movement of people is still recommended.

If accepted it that it needs to be extended beyond 20 July, O’Brien will move to do so, he said.

Earlier today, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the government is considering whether the rent freeze should be extended:

“We have to take legal advice in relation to it – research has taken place into the rent arrears issue and that will inform our response in terms of people in difficulty with that situation.”

O’Brien said the research indicates that a large amount of rent arrears has not built up over the last couple of months. He encouraged those facing difficulties in paying their rent to engage with their landlords.

He said any future extension of the rent freeze and ban on evictions “will be made at the appropriate time” if it is required.

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Soidarity-People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the minister that he does not need to consult with the health minister on the matter. 

Evicting people into homelessness during a pandemic is not compatible with the public health advice. 

He called on the minister to make the call today stating that people who are homeless do not have the facilities to follow the public health advice, such as regularly washing their hands. 

Boyd Barrett added that placing people in hostels or family hubs is also not compatible as they are congregated settings, and should not be allowed as long the virus with us.

The minister said those in rent arrears should get in touch with the Department of Social Protection as there are supports available.

Sinn Féin called for increased publicity of the rent supplement supports that are available, stating that the majority of people are not aware of the supports available.

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