Dáil debates

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (Extension of Notice Periods) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]


9:50 pm

Photo of Francis Noel DuffyFrancis Noel Duffy (Dublin South West, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, for sharing his time with me on this very important Bill. I also thank the Simon Communities of Ireland, with which I engaged on this Bill, and Wayne Stanley in particular for unifying many parties on both sides of the House on this critical issue. It is a very reasonable proposal which I hope the Government will seriously consider progressing and supporting. As mentioned by my colleagues in the Opposition, the Bill very simply aims to identify people at risk of homelessness and to provide the support and services needed to prevent the household, whether it be a family with children or a single person, from entering homelessness by means of a 12-week extension.

According to a recent Threshold report, tenancy termination has become the number one issue for tenants in the private rental sector. A stark figure shows that almost half of terminations brought to Threshold in 2020 were ultimately found to be invalid for reasons including invalid notices of termination and evictions and threatened evictions being illegal. The solution here is tenancy security, strengthened enforcement and public awareness to ensure that tenants and landlords are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities.

I would like to correct the Dáil record in respect of Deputy Tóibín's comments. Green Party policies agreed in the programme for Government or by my team and I since last year include the introduction of cost-rental accommodation totalling 2,000 units a year, which is just the start; tenancies of indefinite duration; 100% public housing on public land; the abolishment of co-living and strategic housing developments; a referendum on a right to housing; a town centres first policy to revitalise our towns; the commencement of 30,000 units in the first ten months of this years and retrofitting social homes. I should add that the Green Party policy of heat conservation, implemented through Part L of the building regulations, has brought more people out of fuel poverty than any other policy in the history of the State. Despite what Opposition Members might critique, I am sure they agree that cost-rental accommodation and tenancies of indefinite duration will not only assist in dealing with the immediate crisis, but will also provide long-term security and affordability to tenants, both of which have been missing key elements in Irish housing policy.

However, the Bill could be strengthened. The Government could go further by ensuring that intervention is provided from the very start once a notice to quit is served. This would ensure households do not reach crisis point and would prevent heightened levels of anxiety and distress. It would also give local authorities and organisations plenty of time to provide services. I submitted this proposal as an amendment to the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2021 but, disappointingly, it did not get accepted, perhaps due to time constraints. I hope to revisit these proposals with my colleagues on the committee.

To conclude, I again extend my support for this Bill and commend the Simon Communities of Ireland not only on its legislative work, but also on its front-line services that have seen thousands of households saved from homelessness and on its constant willingness to provide advice to me and other legislators.


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