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Protection for renters in financial difficulty due to Covid-19 extended to 12 July

The protections in place were due to expire on 12 April.

Image: Shutterstock/wjapinto

PROTECTIONS for renters who have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic have been extended until July.

The protections in place were due to expire on 12 April, however, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien sought Cabinet approval today to extend the provisions. 

The legislation brought in last August, replaced the temporary measures, which prevented evictions and rent increases for tenants in financial difficulty in the pandemic.

The measures in the Bill include protections to renters who have fallen into rent arrears, giving them 28 days to pay owed rent before they can be evicted.

Rent increases for workers who are on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme are also banned. 

Any tenant financially negatively impacted by the pandemic and find themselves in rent arrears will be protected from eviction, as well as any rent increases up until 12 July.

The measures can be only applied in circumstances where a self-declaration form from the tenant is sent confirming that they cannot pay their rent due to the financial impact of Covid-19. The landlord can still serve a valid notice of termination (after the 28-day warning notice for rent arrears has expired).

However, the tenant will not have to vacate their accommodation before the new July date and the tenant must be given at least 90 days’ notice. Also, the landlord cannot increase the rent until the July date under the new measures.

Currently, a blanket eviction ban is in place due to people’s movement being restricted to 5 kilometres from their home.

This means there has been ban on evictions from 31 December 2020 to 5 April 2021, with a ten-day grace period after this.

The limit on travel is due to expire on 5 April, but will be reviewed by ministers before this date.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has called on the government not to lift the moratorium on the eviction of tenants on 5 April saying that lifting the eviction moratorium would be a “heartless abandonment of tenants in the midst of a pandemic that will plunge many tenants into crisis and worsen the homelessness crisis”.

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Boyd Barrett said: “There is likely to be a slew of unjust evictions if the government lifts the eviction moratorium on 5 April.”

“It is unconscionable that Minister Darragh O Brien would allow that to happen. It will restart the cycle of evictions that has driven the homelessness crisis,” he said.

Labour housing spokesperson Senator Rebecca Moynihan has also urged the government to extend the ban on evictions and rent increases until the end of 2021.

Senator Moynihan said that Government’s haphazard approach to protecting renters during the most difficult time in living memory is absolutely disgraceful and will directly contribute to an increase in homelessness.

“I am urging them to take a long-term approach and extend this ban until the end of the year. The short-termism of another three month extension just goes to show how out of touch this Government is with the lived experience of renters and workers in Ireland today,” she said. 

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