Thursday, 23 June 2022
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
34. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his views on the rising number of evictions; his plans to deal with these; if he will consider a reintroduction of an outright ban as an emergency measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32966/22]
40. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will reinstate the eviction ban, given the month on month increase in homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32940/22]
78. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will introduce a rent freeze to take cost of living pressures of workers and families and to stop them entering homelessness. [32747/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 34, 40 and 78 together.
The Government needs to strike a balance between restricting the level of rents that tenants are paying and keeping ordinary landlords in the system.
A blanket rent freeze will simply not grow, or maintain, the supply of much needed accommodation in the rental market. It is highly likely that a blanket ban on rent increases for a significant duration would be the subject of a legal challenge and would almost certainly deter continued investment in the rental accommodation market.
Having regard to the manifest and grave risk to human life and public health posed by the spread of Covid-19 and in order to mitigate, where practicable, the effect of the spread of that disease, the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 provided for a temporary moratorium on tenancy terminations, other than in exceptional and limited cases during the emergency period from 27 March 2020 to 1 August 2020.
I have no plans to introduce a ban on evictions, as to do so would constitute an unjust interference in landlords constitutional property rights and could discourage landlords staying in the rental market.
The continuing increase in the numbers accessing emergency accommodation is a serious concern. The Government, local authorities, approved housing bodies (AHBs) and others are making every effort to reduce homelessness, and while significant work has been done there is still more to do.
I have established the National Homeless Action Committee, and I have asked them to prioritise the issue of homelessness prevention and to look at all further avenues of addressing this. The Committee includes representation from the local authority and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) sector.
My Department also funds Threshold’s National Tenancy Protection Service, which has proven to be instrumental in preventing homelessness in the first instance and supporting people to remain in their homes.
The most effective way to increase exits from homelessness in the medium to long term is to increase supply, particularly of social housing, and to accelerate supply of housing over the next decade. Under Housing for All, the Government’s national housing plan to 2030, the Government is committed to providing 47,600 new-build social homes by the end of 2026, and 90,000 social homes by 2030. In terms of social housing delivery, last year, 9,183 new social homes were provided, a 17% increase on 2020.
Housing for Allprovides funding and commits to delivering 36,000 affordable homes for purchase and 18,000 Cost Rental homes up to 2030. Underpinned by the Affordable Housing Act 2021, these affordable homes will be delivered through local authorities, AHBs, the Land Development Agency (LDA), the First Home shared equity scheme and the expansion of the Part V planning requirements.
Over 4,000 Affordable homes are targeted for delivery in 2022, with targets increasing incrementally in subsequent years. An average of 2,000 Cost Rental homes per year are targeted for delivery up to 2030. These will be delivered by AHBs, supported by the Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL), the LDA and by local authorities supported by the Affordable Housing Fund (AHF).
50 purpose-built Cost Rental homes, with cost rents of €1,200 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, have been tenanted by the Tuath and Respond AHBs at Enniskerry Road, in conjunction with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. The tenanting and allocation process is underway for a further 123 Cost Rental homes across 4 sites in Dublin and Kildare which are due to be tenanted by the end of June.
Following the success of the Voids Programme which delivered over 6,000 units in 2020 and 2021, there is a new Voids Programme for 2022 with an emphasis on quick turnaround and re-letting of vacant social housing stock to those on social housing waiting lists, including those in emergency accommodation.
Significant progress is already being made under Housing for Allto accelerate supply and recent commencement figures are encouraging. In the past 12 months (June 2021 to May 2022), Commencement Notices for 30,233 new homes were received. On a rolling 12-month basis, the total number of homes for which Commencement Notices were received is 18.5% higher than the previous 12-month period of June 2020 to May 2021. All additional measures that we can take to address the rise in homelessness are being actively pursued.