Monday, 29 March 2021
Residential Tenancies Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages
I had not intended to intervene on this because the perspective on the amendments has been clearly outlined. We have heard many speeches on matters that are not the amendment at all. It is important to clarify what this Bill does. As Senator Warfield said about section 2, it is not just members of the Opposition who are saying it but also the NGOs involved in this area such as Threshold and the Simon Communities of Ireland. They have said there are people who will be financially impacted and could potentially lose their homes as a result of this. They are not covered. Only 700-plus people are covered. They have registered their tenancies and registered as being in arrears. They have said from their experience that it is excessively cumbersome.
I wish to clarify the 5 km limit. All the indications are that the Government will change the 5 km limit tomorrow. We tied, in legislation, the extension of eviction protections to renters to the 5 km limit. If that limit is lifted, we will still be in a Covid situation and we will still have the balance of rights. Unfortunately, however, because we tied it to the 5 km, we will probably still have level 5 with a couple of small restrictions lifted. When this happened last August, 360 people got notices of eviction. We must say that clearly when we are talking and not speaking to the amendment. Members say this is enhancing the rights of tenants, but when we have over 600 cases of Covid a day and we have not had a full roll-out of the vaccine there are hundreds of families who will potentially be evicted. It is important to put that on the record. As Senator Warfield said, just because Members keep saying it does not necessarily make it true. I do not want to end up with a situation in which that is going to happen but it is likely to end up happening, and it is not just the Opposition that is saying it.