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eviction ban

Taoiseach calls for 'accurate' language, says notices to quit are not evictions

The government has been under scrutiny in recent weeks for its decision to lift the eviction ban

THE TAOISEACH HAS said that judges are “reluctant” to hand down eviction orders against renters who would face homelessness as the eviction ban is set to lift next week.

The government has been under scrutiny in recent weeks for its decision to remove the eviction ban that was in place during the winter despite rising numbers of people in emergency accommodation.

Sinn Féin tabled a motion earlier this week calling for the ban to be extended to January 2024 but the government won a counter motion against the extension.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who is in Brussels today to attend a meeting of the EU Council, said he expects eviction orders enforced through the court system to “continue to be very small” even as notices of termination come into effect. 

“Evictions in Ireland can only be ordered by the courts. I think people often mix up notices of termination with evictions. Eviction orders can only be issued by the courts and I would expect those numbers to continue to be very small,” he said.

I think we do need to start using words a bit more accurately. It’s not the same.

Varadkar said.

“I can guarantee you that judges are very reluctant to evict people into homelessness.”

The Taoiseach refuted the impact the eviction ban lifting is expected to have on homelessness, saying that the reasons for homelessness are “manifold”.

“It’s not simply people who’ve had a notice to quit served on them. If you look at the last couple of months, when the number of people in emergency accommodation has increased every month and there was an eviction ban in place, what were the reasons?” he said.

“It was family breakdown, it was all sorts of different other issues as to why people look for emergency accommodation – increasing numbers of families and people from overseas as well seeking emergency accommodation.”

He said he expects that landlords will be “reasonable” in cases where a tenant cannot find another place to live before a notice of termination comes into effect.

“I think in those scenarios, the vast majority of property owners and landlords are very reasonable. They will understand that sometimes people will need more time to find an alternative place to go and provided that they’re paying the rent, a lot of property owners and landlords will be reasonable about that,” he claimed.

“There will be other cases that end up in the courts, where courts will adjudicate on the matter and decide whether or not an eviction order is appropriate.

“From my experience dealing with difficult cases and constituency cases, courts are very reluctant to evict people into homelessness for humanitarian reasons.”

The government has faced immense criticism from homelessness charities, the Opposition, and even within its own ranks as Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan chose to vote against the government in the Dáil this week.

During a Dáil debate on the issue, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin told Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien that the country will see “levels of homeless that nobody ever thought was possible”.

Minister O’Brien said the decision to end the eviction ban on 31 March “was not one that we took lightly” but that the government believes it is the correct decision to take.

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