Thursday, 30 July 2020
Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
Mick Barry (Cork North Central, Solidarity)
The amendment seeks to delete the Government proposal to make it a criminal offence to deliberately and intentionally give false information on a declaration that would say that one's income has been hit by the Covid-19 crisis and, as a result, one is in rent arrears. The Government is creating a situation where a person can face eviction and then, on top of that, face criminal charges for giving a declaration that is false or misleading. Why would someone give a declaration that was false or misleading? There are many reasons that might be the case, one being that someone does not understand exactly what is going on. Perhaps there are issues with language or with a person reading what is put in front of him or her. I made the point in a previous discussion that many renters are immigrants who do not have English as a first language. Many are people who, because of the neglect in the education system, are functionally illiterate. Mistakes can be made and someone then faces not just eviction, but potentially a criminal charge.
There is another scenario were someone would give a false declaration. A person, perhaps on a low income, may face not just eviction for themselves but for their family in the middle of a pandemic. Someone might give false information to protect and prevent their family being on the streets and I would not condemn them for doing that. I have no hesitation in saying that. I would not condemn someone who protects their partner and kids for giving a false declaration. The Minister is shaking his head. That situation will arise and the Minister is in favour-----