Thursday, 30 July 2020
Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
Darragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
I have listened to Tadhg an dá thaobh for most of the day, so let us just focus on what we need to do to bring in real protections for people.
The key focus of section 4 is to assist tenants faced with adverse economic impacts on foot of the Covid-19 pandemic and who find themselves unable to pay rent and at a significant risk of having their tenancy terminated. It is not the case that such tenants have to declare they are going to become homeless, as Sinn Féin is asking people to do. We need to target help to those tenants who need that assistance.
I cannot accept amendment No. 34. Section 12 of the Bill amends section 5, "Notices of termination under Act of 2004", of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 by providing in subsection (6) a redefinition of the revised termination date in order that it cannot expire any earlier than 10 August. The potential unintended consequence of amendment No. 34, if passed, is that it would actually remove the 10 August date, which would mean that any transitionary protections would be removed immediately. I do not think that is what Deputy Barry or Deputy Bríd Smith want to do, but that would be the legal consequence of the acceptance of the amendment they have tabled. A person who is due to move out at the end of March has an extra four months in situ, given the pandemic. The rental sector is open for business again. I accept that it has been an uncertain time for tenants, but the emergency protections were always temporary, and we need to strengthen protections for those who need them most by using permanent measures through primary legislation. The law needs to be clear. Section 5(7) of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 needs to cease operation on 1 August along with the rest of Part 2 of that Act. This Bill will take over insofar as emergency protections for renters up to 10 January 2021 are concerned.
I cannot accept amendments Nos. 37 and 38 to the Title, which has been agreed by my Department and the Office of the Attorney General.