Tuesday, 14 December 2021
Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (Extension of Notice Periods) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]
I commend my colleague, Deputy Ó Broin, on introducing the Bill, which is supported by the Opposition parties. It aims to provide increased protection for those at risk of homelessness following an eviction notice by providing a three-month extension to the notice-to-quit period triggered by a housing authority, which would prevent their entry into emergency accommodation. The primary drivers of homelessness in recent years have been legal evictions and rent increases. Homelessness has increased in each of the past four months since the Government lifted the ban on notices to quit. This is evident in my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan, where I have witnessed a large increase in the number of people contacting my offices who have been served with such notices. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage recently recorded 81 people in the north-east region, which includes counties Cavan, Monaghan and Louth, as homeless. The people receiving these notices are faced with little option in the private sector when trying to find alternative accommodation. For instance, according to daft.ie, there are nine houses for rent today in County Cavan and seven in County Monaghan. This, I fear, is only the tip of the iceberg, as I am aware of many people who could be described as the hidden homeless, sofa surfing between different houses or flats over long periods, and continuously having to move from one place to the next.
The lack of alternative accommodation and the increase in evictions has also forced people to remain in substandard accommodation because they are often afraid to raise serious issues with their landlord, fearing that they will be issued with a notice to quit and knowing that there is such a limited number of houses or flats to rent. For those in my constituency who find themselves in need of emergency accommodation, the nearest facility is in Dundalk, approximately 130 km away. It is too far away from family and there is no direct public transport route to Dundalk. We need to see more action taken to keep families in their homes and prevent them from entering homelessness in the first place. We need to ensure that local authorities have every power to prevent adults and children from losing their homes and entering emergency accommodation.