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Robert Troy asked housing minister to support landlords seeking to evict tenants during pandemic

Troy questioned the minister about landlords in the process of securing evictions notices against “non-conforming tenants”.

JUNIOR MINISTER ROBERT Troy used a Dáil parliamentary question to call on the housing minister to support landlords seeking to evict tenants during the pandemic when the moratorium on evictions was in place.

The Fianna Fáil TD questioned the Minister about an issue where landlords were in the process of securing evictions notices against “non-conforming tenants”, but the process was suspended because of the Covid pandemic.

On Tuesday, 16 June 2020, Troy used parliamentary questions to get information on how the minister would help landlords who were prevented from evicting tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, landlords were prevented from issuing a Notice of Termination to tenants. The emergency measures were introduced into law to protect tenants during the pandemic and were lifted in 2021.

In response to Troy, the housing minister said that rent increases were prohibited and tenants could not be forced to leave their rental accommodation, other than in exceptional circumstances.

“My department, in collaboration with the RTB, recently published a guidance document on Covid-19 supports for landlords and tenants that sets out the emergency rental measures and income and other supports available to tenants and landlords during the emergency period,” then-Minister Eoghan Murphy said. 

“Tenants are required to continue to observe the normal terms and conditions of their lease including paying rent to their landlord during the Covid-19 emergency period and, in the event of tenants having difficulty doing so, they are encouraged to engage with their landlords at the earliest opportunity,” the minister said.

He said they should also engage with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection as income supports and rent supplement were available to assist them.

“Where a notice of termination was served before the emergency period, it cannot take effect until after the emergency period unless the termination was grounded on foot of a breach of tenant obligations and the RTB (Residential Tenancy Board) issue a Determination Order validating the termination to proceed during the emergency period,” the Minister said.

“A landlord can serve their tenant with a warning notice during the emergency period if their tenant is in rent arrears or otherwise failing to fulfil their obligations. The landlord must give their tenant 28 days, rather than the usual 14 days, from receipt of a rent arrears warning notice to pay the arrears.

“The longer rent arrears warning notice during the emergency period is intended to afford more time for tenants to seek any necessary income support. A notice of tenancy termination cannot be served by a landlord during the emergency period for any reason.”

The Longford-Westmeath TD was also told that the emergency measures provided that tenants who had been legally evicted can remain in their accommodation, while continuing to pay rent and continuing to observe the normal terms and conditions of their lease.

“However, where the RTB determines a dispute in favour of the landlord, a termination may take place during the emergency period.”

Troy has been at the centre of a controversy in recent weeks after he failed to declare all his property dealings to the Dail register of members’ interests, as first reported by The Ditch.

He is facing mounting pressure over his property interests and had to make a total of seven amendments to the Dail register.

On another occasion, in March 2021, Troy asked the housing minister if eviction proceedings could advance in relation to tenants who had not paid rent since before the period of Covid-19 restrictions.

He asked if special arrangements had been made to assist landlords in cases involving tenants who had “made no effort to contribute to rental agreements, ignored orders to vacate and are in effect squatting”and if he had considered introducing financial supports for landlords in such circumstances.

The minister – Darragh O’Brien of Fianna Fáil - reiterared that tenants were required to continue to observe the normal terms and conditions of their lease, including paying rent to their landlord.

Press Association