Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018: Second Stage
I thank everyone for the contributions they have made. In particular, I thank those who stayed after they spoke to engage in the debate. When I asked the Chair if there was a time limit on my response, he said "No." I am very sorry if I go on too long because I know people have had a long day. When I speak in this Chamber, I like to go through each Senator's contribution and respond in turn to what he or she has said. On this occasion, I propose to speak thematically on each of the issues that have been raised. I am trying to be a bit more efficient.
I spoke at the outset about the urgency with which we are dealing with these issues. I have asked the House to do something special with regard to the amount of time we spend debating this Bill in order that we can see it through this week. This is important not because I want to stifle debate or restrict the potential for further reforms, but because I am conscious that the Bill has already been delayed, unfortunately, through circumstances outside my control. The Government does not control this House. We wanted to put additional things in the Bill that were not in it initially to extend the rent pressure zones, change the qualifying criteria, lengthen notice periods and regulate short-term letting. I will go into the details of those changes in due course. The key thing is that we were meant to commence the new laws on short-term letting, which will allow for home-sharing while clamping down on short-term letting for tourism purposes, on 1 June next. As a result of the delays I have mentioned, it is now intended that the new laws will be commenced on 1 July. Given that we are now in the month of May, I am worried that if this Bill does not conclude in this House this week, I will not be able to come back to this House with the regulations next week. I want this legislation to come into law by the beginning of June to provide a four-week period to people in this situation. They have already had more than enough time. To be fair, they have known this was coming since October. There will have to be time to put public notices in the newspapers in order that this can happen on 1 July. We do not want to lose that date again. That is why I have looked for this to happen quickly. I appreciate the frustration this has caused for Senators. We have debated this issue in the House on numerous occasions. This is a very important Bill. I have already examined the amendments in detail. I have listened carefully this evening. I will go through every piece of this Bill with Senators tomorrow. I hope the Seanad will provide time to get this done this week. That will allow me to get this legislation to the President for signature, get the commencement done, start with the regulations and come back with the short-term lettings regulations.
Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell may have misinterpreted Senator Mullen's remarks. I do not think he was talking about 70% of Senators being landlords.