Thursday, 8 July 2021
Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Bill 2021: From the Seanad
That will not deal with it in the short term. I have mentioned the St. Helen's Court residents on multiple occasions to the Minister, the previous Minister and probably the Minister before that. They are banjaxed. They are waiting for the vulture fund that has successfully evicted them en massefrom an apartment complex and they are overholding because the eviction date has passed. They have nowhere to go, they are vigorously looking around and they cannot find anything even remotely close to being within HAP limits or their income limits. Their landlord has evicted them because it wants to increase the rents. They were all paying roughly €1,000 per month and the previous vulture fund tried, before the RPZs came in, to increase their rent by 60%. It has used various mechanisms to try to get them out over the last four years and it has finally succeeded. These people now have nowhere to go and to me that is unacceptable. If they are waiting for the vulture fund to seek an enforcement order on the RTB adjudication, they will be in the District Court, the judge will tell them they are out and the council will say it has nothing for them. I ask myself what we will do about this. Given that situation, we should have a complete ban on evictions until we can address that. If the Minister says his affordable housing scheme will sort it out for them he should ban evictions until it does. The problem is that in the immediate term, that building worker I met on the street and those people in St. Helen's Court simply cannot find affordable rental accommodation. They are working people and they may be in homeless services in a few weeks because of that fact.
I would be interested to hear if the Minister has any view on another matter. Along with Deputies Ó Broin and Cian O'Callaghan, I took part in a debate with thejournal.iethe other day about housing policy and it had an expert group that was meeting beforehand. Those experts were recommending that there should be maximum rents based on square meterage and this is in line with People Before Profit policy. That happens in other countries and that is what should happen. Rent boards of local authorities should simply inspect any properties that are being put up for rent in their area and they should state what the maximum that can be charged for it is. Roughly speaking, those ceilings on what can be charged should be aligned to what is affordable for people on modest and average incomes. There can be exceptions around that but that should be the broad principle. That is what is necessary.
I accept that this is an effort to try to improve things but it will not deal with the rental crisis or the homelessness that is flowing from same. It should deal with that. The Minister has often said that he wants to stop people going into homelessness. I can promise him that they will continue to go into homelessness until we address that, and for the moment at least, ban evictions that are no-fault or economic evictions.