Residential Tenancies (No. 2) Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages

There are a number of amendments proposed and 120 minutes have been allowed for the debate from start to finish.

SECTION 1

Amendments Nos. 1 and 11 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 4, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:

“ “deposit” means an amount of money paid or payable by the tenant or any other person as security for the observance and performance of any of the tenancy obligations of the tenant under the Act or under a tenancy agreement; but does not include any sum payable or paid by way of rent;”.

This amendment to section 1 aims to provide a definition of the term "deposit", which is a key part of this Bill which is missing. As far as I am aware, a definition of "deposit" is provided nowhere in Irish law. The lack of such a definition is potentially a big flaw or gap in this Bill. I look forward to hearing the Minister's response.

I thank Deputy O'Callaghan for tabling the amendment. Deputy Duncan Smith has a related amendment which has not yet been moved. Am I correct in saying that I am only addressing amendment No. 1 at the moment?

Amendments Nos. 1 and 11 are to be discussed together by agreement.

I can speak to both. I thank the Deputies for tabling the amendments although I cannot accept either of them. To define "deposit" as is proposed in these amendments, which are well-meaning, is unnecessary. Section 4 amends section 16 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, inserting a new section 16(a)(iii) which provides a new reference to a deposit a tenant might be obliged to pay. Section 12 of the 2004 Act, which deals with the obligations of landlords, has included reference to deposits since 2004 without a definition of the term being required. This is the explanation. Those references are already there.

The term "deposit" is not defined in the Bill to ensure that the common understanding of it among tenants, landlords, letting agents and the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, continues to operate in the market. The provision of a legal definition could have the unintended consequence of restricting the RTB's discretion in dispute determinations as regards what should be considered to be, or to be included in, a deposit. The broader the understanding of the term, the better. A legal definition of "deposit" could serve as a term to be circumvented by certain parties who may wish to charge something like key money, for example.

The Bill aims to clearly provide that the maximum amount of money to be provided to a landlord to secure a tenancy cannot exceed the value of two months' rent, that any advance rent payment cannot exceed one month's rent and that any deposit cannot exceed one month's rent either. The RTB considers a security deposit to be a sum of money paid by a tenant to a landlord, usually before a tenancy commences or on the date of commencement of a tenancy. The deposit is held by the landlord and is returned to the tenant at the end of the tenancy once no rent arrears, bills, charges or other items are outstanding and once no damage beyond normal wear and tear has occurred. The security deposit is considered the lawful property of the tenant until the landlord establishes a right to it. For those reasons, I am not in a position to accept the amendment, although I understand the thrust of the Deputy's intentions in tabling it.

I am willing to listen to what the Minister has said on this. Given his statements, I will not press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

We will move on to amendment No. 2 in the names of Deputies Boyd Barrett, Gino Kenny, Paul Murphy and Bríd Smith.

Amendments Nos. 2, 14 and 15 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:

“ “Act of 2020” means Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020;”.

Before I speak directly to the amendments, I wish to say publicly that I raised with the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, earlier today an issue relating to a person who is homeless and who it had been suggested might be put in shared homeless accommodation in spite of a chronic respiratory condition. I thank the Minister for responding immediately on that issue. That person, although he is still in what is obviously a very difficult situation, being homeless, has now been given his own-door emergency accommodation where he will not be vulnerable to infection due to not having been vaccinated. He and I are very appreciative that the Minister has responded so quickly. I thank him for that.

As I said on Second Stage, insofar as the Bill seeks to extend protections to a small cohort of tenants, People Before Profit will support it. Support that protects any group of tenants from eviction or rent increases is to be welcomed, as are the decisions to bring into legislation some of the calls that the Union of Students in Ireland and members of the Opposition brought forward previously.

However, the Minister will not be surprised to hear that we think it is not enough and that all tenants, tens of thousands of them, are in a very precarious situation and need urgent protection. In our view, the Bill should include much more serious, effective and comprehensive measures to protect tenants from eviction and rent increases they simply cannot afford when one considers that the vast majority of tenants are already paying absolutely obscene levels of rent.

As I mentioned earlier today, the minimum rent for a two-bedroom apartment in my area is €2,000. Very often it is more than €2,000, such as €2,500 or €3,000. Who can afford that? In order to pay the rent for a two-bedroom apartment, one needs to earn €24,000 a year after tax. It is beyond belief. It is thoroughly obscene. On top of that, because of the blanket restriction on further rent increases that the Minister rightly introduced during the pandemic but which has now been lifted, we face a situation where the two rolled-up 4% increases over two years can mean that people are facing 8% rent increases on top of those kinds of rents. It is utterly unacceptable.

It is equally unacceptable that tenants could be faced with eviction when there is no fault involved. Good tenants who pay their rent, have not done anything wrong and are not engaged in anti-social behaviour could be evicted. I want to stress that at the moment, if you are evicted, you are, in effect, in a homelessness crisis. That is certainly the case where I live, as it is in most of Dublin. Most people would say it is also the case in Cork, Galway, Waterford and many of the other epicentres of the housing crisis, such is the level of unaffordability and the extortionate rip-off rents being charged by vulture funds, corporate landlords or just landlords who think they can make a lot of money. That is not acceptable. If there was a big supply of affordable rental accommodation, one might say maybe it is okay that people can be evicted, but in a situation where there is nothing out there that is affordable and 100,000 families are, in one way or another, on social housing lists, transfer lists or a HAP transfer list with no chance of getting a property, there is nothing there for them. Almost as a matter of definition, if one is evicted, one is very likely in a homelessness crisis.

I have previously mentioned the St. Helen's Court residents to the Minister. I hope he might intervene in the effective way he did today in terms of their plight. They are in a dire situation. These are elderly people, working people who pay their rent and so on. This community is facing the prospect of being in emergency accommodation in the coming weeks because the protections they enjoyed during the pandemic have no been lifted and this Bill does not provide them.

The amendments in this grouping are an attempt to address that issue and to bring into the Bill protections for all tenants for the duration of the emergency period at a minimum so that they evolve. These are amendments to the emergency legislation. They provide that for the emergency period, that is, for as long as the pandemic is with us, there should be absolutely no question of anybody being evicted and, similarly, there should be no question of people having further rent increases imposed on them. In addition, when the period ends there should be no question of rent increases being backdated or accumulating such that people face an 8% or potentially a 12% rent increase. Even those who are protected by the Bill could find themselves getting a 12% increase. There should be no backdating of those increases. That is what these amendments do.

By the way, that is only as a stopgap. We need not just pandemic-related protections for all tenants, but fundamental reform in the legislation to protect tenants properly. Nobody who pays their rent and is a good tenant should face eviction. If landlords are selling, they should be required to do so with tenants in situ. As regards the stopgap, if the Minister accepts these amendments, which I know he will not do, he should then bring in legislation that will give that protection to tenants and, similarly, bring in rent controls. I do not see what other way it can be done because I do not believe for one minute that rents are going to come down even if the supply to which the Minister often refers increases and so on. There is no real prospect of the current unaffordable rents coming down. We need rent controls, as are standard in many countries. Even in the heart of capitalism, in New York and places like that, the authorities set rents at affordable levels and that is what should happen here. People from a rent board or the local authority should go in, look at a property and say a particular figure is as much as can be charged for that property. That is what we actually need to protect tenants.

I do not know whether the current by-election might spur the Minister on a bit. It certainly spurred the Tánaiste into making some fairly remarkable promises. It might be worth the Government bearing in mind while considering these amendments that there is a significant number of renters in Dublin Bay South. Many of the people to whom I have spoken on the doorsteps have asked what will be done for tenants and renters. I think the Minister should take this opportunity. If it protects tenants, I do not care that it might get a few votes for Fianna Fáil.

This is the time when we have to protect tenants from unjust evictions and the extortionate rents they are now facing. At the very least, the Minister could accept these amendments which would mean that for the full duration of the emergency period, that is, until the emergency legislation is repealed, there will be no rent increases and no evictions. A lot of people would benefit from that, including the tenants in my area whom I have mentioned and who are now facing the imminent threat of eviction and homelessness when they have done absolutely nothing wrong. I appeal to the Minister to seriously consider these amendments.

These are crucial amendments. Amendments tabled by members of other parties would have a similar effect in terms of ensuring this aspect of the legislation does something meaningful for those who are facing 8% rent increases, rather than just pretending to do something meaningful. I will tell the Minister about Jane, who came to me more than a month ago regarding the €160 a month rent increase she was facing, bringing her rent to €2,140 a month, an increase of almost 8%. She lives with her kids in an extremely ordinary house in Tallaght.

I know her because she was previously in the homeless hub at Abberley Court and was involved in organising the homeless people there, overwhelmingly women, into a very effective campaigning group. It took her a long time to get a place, under the HAP scheme, but she finally has somewhere. She is not one of the people who signed a form, because she does not qualify to do so. She is not one of the 500 and now, coming out of the pandemic, she is faced with an 8% rent increase.

I first raised Jane's case with the Tánaiste and subsequently with the Taoiseach. I was told something would be done to make sure this type of thing does not happen. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, we were told, will do something about it. When I said to Jane that her landlord might back off, she replied, "Not my landlord, he will not be backing off". He will go ahead and look for the 8% increase, which she cannot afford to pay. My point is that what the Minister is doing in this Bill will not affect the vast majority of renters in the State. They may all still be subject to 8% rent increases. In the case of the few hundred people who are protected, they may be subject to 12% rent increases next year. Our amendment No. 15 would deal with that by specifying that landlords cannot accumulate rent increases that were not imposed during the pause on such increases and seek to get them all back later on. They do not get to impose the 4% increase per year they were prevented from imposing during the pause. If the Minister does not accept the amendment, and I am not shocked that he is indicating he will not, then he is not doing much at all for those people. He is just pretending to do something and, in the flurry of announcements on housing, hoping people will think, "Oh well, something was done." There are many people affected by this and they will realise the Government did not take any significant action.

Amendment No. 14 seeks to extend the freeze or ban on evictions. We have seen the figures showing that, in the course of the pandemic, more than 1,000 households were issued with eviction notices. We will see, or we certainly are very likely to see, a significant number of eviction notices coming forward in the next number of months. I am aware that a number of constituents I have been dealing with have received eviction notices for August, September and October. There potentially will be thousands of such notices going out at a time when the Government is cutting the pandemic unemployment payment. We are being told the economy will take off like a rocket but, in the meantime, rents are going through the roof. People are facing cuts to the PUP and many of them will not be able to afford an 8% increase in their rent. As Deputy Boyd Barrett mentioned earlier, almost 1% of the population has been homeless in recent years. How many more people are going to be added to the list as a result of the Government's failure to protect them?

This is a simple amendment to extend the ban on evictions. In refusing to accept it, is the Minister making a case that it is unconstitutional? He has shaken his head to indicate that is not the case, which is interesting. If he is not hiding behind the claim the amendment is unconstitutional, which I do not accept it is, then I ask that he accept it. I am interested to hear his reasoning for not doing so.

I thank the Deputies for tabling these amendments. I cannot accept them and I will explain why presently. First, I want to inform the House that no one is pretending to do anything. We brought in effective measures last July and we have extended them since. In addition, we brought forward some permanent changes, relating to rent arrears, deposit restrictions and minimum notice periods, which are not pandemic-related. I am not having a go at the Deputies who brought forward these amendments by pointing out that some of them opposed this legislation originally. I am glad that, since then, people have seen fit to support the measures and the House, with unanimity, accepted the extensions to them.

Before dealing with the issue of rent increases, I want to explain why I cannot accept amendments Nos. 2, 14 and 15. I cannot do so because they propose to amend Part 2 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 and that Part ceased operation from 1 August last. With effect from 27 March 2020, the Act made exceptional provisions, in the public interest, for a blanket ban on evictions and rent increases in order to mitigate the effect of the spread of Covid-19. The measures modified the operation of certain provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 for a three-month emergency period following the enactment of the 2020 Act and during any further period specified by Government.

The emergency period under Part 2 of the Act, to which this group of amendments is linked, was extended by the Government on 19 June 2020 and again on 20 July, having regard to the threat to public health, the highly contagious nature of Covid-19 and the need to restrict the movement of people. As I indicated, Part 2 of the 2020 Act, relating to rental measures, ultimately ceased to operate with effect from 1 August 2020. It is a matter for the Bills Office as to whether these amendments are in order. I understand the thrust of them but they are linked to legislative provisions that are now spent and no longer in operation. As such, I would not be in a position to accept them even should I wish to do so.

I want to update Deputies on the issue of rent pressure zones, RPZs, and rent increases. Will will discuss them again later as there are further relevant amendments. The Taoiseach has rightly said we will address these issues. I have advised the House before that we will be bringing forward a significant rent and tenancy reform Bill in the autumn. In advance of that, we are working on other measures. We are on Committee Stage of this Bill and we are looking at additional measures to deal with the rent increase issue. I hope to be able to conclude that work very shortly. I do not mean this in any condescending way but the issues are not as simple as some have presented. There are things that need to be worked through. For example, the RPZs expire at the end of the year. I have said time and again that we will be replacing them with something better. It is my intention to do that in the autumn but I need to see what I can do in the short term, in advance of the summer recess. I am working on that but I cannot go into any more detail because I do not want there to be any unintended consequences if I make any comment that might lead to something else. I assure Deputies that measures are being worked on and will come to this House when they are ready.

I have explained why I will not be accepting amendments Nos. 2, 14 and 15. I cannot do so in any case because they relate to a section of an Act that is ceased.

Let us be clear that these amendments are in order. I was pleasantly surprised that they were found to be so, but the fact is they were and, as such, I do not really accept the Minister's response. It is tricky for us to bring forward amendments to this type of legislation without finding ourselves out of order. There is a difficulty in trying to do things that were not directly envisaged by the Minister, as author of the legislation. If there are any technical problems with any aspect of these amendments, the Minister could overcome them if he had the will to do so. His response does not really answer the substantive point. I am not saying that what the Minister said is wrong but nor am I accepting it is right.

The amendments represent our effort to extend the protections that were provided under the 2020 Act. When the Minister says that legislation has ceased to operate, I do not quite know what he means. There is still an emergency period operating in that some tenants are being protected under this Bill. We want that protection extended to all tenants. The Minister has not addressed the substantive point that the vast majority of tenants, who should be protected in this Bill, are not being protected from the prospect of rent increases they simply cannot afford.

The Minister can tell me if he disagrees. I do not think, however, that anybody could seriously disagree that the amounts of rent that are being paid by the vast majority of people in this country, particularly in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Waterford, the epicentres of the housing crisis, are utterly obscene and unaffordable for ordinary working people. Does the Minister accept that? I would be interested to know because, to me, it is blatantly obvious. Rent of €2,000 or more a month is just not acceptable. How are ordinary working people supposed to pay that? As I have pointed out, of a renter's after-tax income, this amounts to €24,000 a year. That is just obscene.

Does the Minister accept that most people cannot afford to pay these amounts? They most certainly cannot afford to have an 8% rent increase on top of that - a very real prospect they are facing - or a 12% increase at the end of the emergency period for even the small group that will be protected by this Bill. They simply cannot pay. We need rents that are affordable and that ordinary people can pay.

I cited the St. Helen's Court complex as a tangible example in this regard. The people who are facing homelessness and who have always paid their rent, were paying amounts of €900 or €1,000 a month. That is a lot, but they could just about manage it. They are being evicted because the owners of Mill Street Projects, the vulture fund, want to charge double that amount and they know they have to evict the tenants to do so. They have spent four years driving those tenants out and trying to circumvent the legislation. They have finally found a way to do it and they are going to put those people out on the street. There is no protection for them and there is no social housing in the area. There is no other rental accommodation in the area that they can afford. Where is the protection for them? Is the Minister going to protect them and other tenants like them? That is the question. That is what all those renters out there want to know. If there is something technically wrong with our amendment, I ask the Minister to tell us what the Government's response is going to be to protect them against evictions or unaffordable rents. People need to know.

Earlier, we outlined to the Minister the statistic that 38,000 people have gone through homeless accommodation since 2014, which equates to almost 1% of the adult population. That is absolutely shocking. There are probably several thousand people who are going to face eviction in the coming weeks and months. They are in dire trouble. Once a person is evicted, he or she is, by definition, in dire trouble. Does the Minister accept that? Does he accept that if a person is evicted, he or she is in serious trouble? What is he going to do to protect those who are in that situation? There is an urgency to this question. What we are doing is not what Deputy Higgins described on Second Stage as opposition for opposition's sake. We are reflecting the reality of what renters are facing. We are asking, with these amendments, for the Government to insert into the legislation protections that would prevent people being put into a crisis situation over the coming weeks and months while the more thoroughgoing legislation to which the Minister referred is prepared. It would be interesting to know what will be in that legislation to address these issues. Why would the Minister reject the idea that we freeze things now until that more comprehensive legislation is introduced? I ask him to explain that to me. I do not understand why the Government would create a window for unfair rent increases and evictions.

On the substantive issue, the Minister asserted that the Government is not pretending to do something. The issue we are discussing is that of people facing 8% rent increases. It has become a significant issue, so much so that the Fine Gael by-election candidate was forced to say that it is both a revelation and outrageous and called on the Government to do something. It has become a political issue to which the Government has been forced to respond. Effectively, however, the Government is doing nothing. That is the reality. Nothing changes for the vast majority of people who have either already received notice of rent increases of up to 8% or are waiting to see if they will receive notification of them in the next number of months. The same situation applies.

The comfort that the Minister gives those people is to reassure them that the Government is working on something in the background and will come back with it in autumn. That will be too late for Jane and many of the people who I mentioned previously in the Dáil, because their rent increases have already been imposed. Someone could be notified of an 8% rent increase tomorrow. That could happen right now and the Government is not doing anything about it.

Even though the Minister has said that he cannot accept the amendments and so on, does he agree that the effect of the period of the Covid-19 pandemic should not be counted towards getting more than a 4% rent increase? Does he agree that landlords should not be able to use the fact that they could not increase rents for a period to take advantage now? Does he agree with that politically? Is that his aim? Does he want to achieve that or is it only those 100 people who signed the form and said their incomes were affected by the Covid pandemic who deserve the protection of not facing a higher than 4% rent increase? That is the key point. We will get to this again in other amendments, and getting clarity on that. I believe very firmly that they way the Government has spoken around this issue has been to give the impression that something is being done for all those who could be facing a rent increase of up to 8% when, in reality, something is being done for a tiny minority of those people.

I have very little else to say, other than I have outlined why I am not accepting the amendments. We have been doing very detailed work in respect of the rent increase issue, which I expect to be able to bring to a conclusion shortly. I have said that. If some Members do not want to accept that, it is fine. The whole issue is not about pretending that it is a serious situation. I know that Members of the Opposition also take it seriously. Fundamentally, we are extending protections and provisions. To reiterate, and factually, the amendments that are tabled here would amend Part II of the Act that ceased to be in operation since 1 August 2020. I cannot accept amendments Nos. 2, 14 or 15 and I have outlined why that is the case.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 1 agreed to.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.
SECTION 2

Amendments Nos. 4 to 9, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 4, line 13, to delete “12 January 2022” and substitute “12 January 2023”.

This legislation is moving in a particular direction and the Minister is not accepting any amendments. With a view to moving things on and having Members speak on as many amendments as possible in the short time allotted, I have decided not to move amendment No. 3. I will speak just for a short while on the amendments in this group because everyone is making similar and important points in relation to the timings and the need to extend the applicable time periods. I have spoken about it previously. Many people, including me, spoke about it on Second Stage.

These amendments are about extending the deadlines from January 2022 to January 2023. It speaks to a longer view in respect of the impact this pandemic is having and how long it is going to take to get out of it.

The Opposition firmly believes stored-up evictions will hit like a tidal wave in the not-too-distant future. When the protections in recent Bills that have kept people in their homes are gone and the cliff edge is hit, the crisis will be of a proportion that will make the pre-pandemic prices seem almost utopian. That is how bad it is going to be. We are asking the Minister whether he can take a longer-term view on this.

The issue of the increase of 8% is important. We spoke about this. There are hidden increases in the system that are not spoken about often enough. If the tenants on rent supplement whose tenancies are coming to an end and who are to be evicted -— this has happened in my constituency, which I share with the Minister, and I am sure it has happened in every other constituency -— are lucky enough to find alternative accommodation, they are encouraged to avail of the housing assistance payment, HAP. The rent officers say new rent supplement applications cannot be accepted and that those concerned must go onto the HAP. A tenant who finds a property and goes through the tortuous process of waiting for HAP approval at one of the various rates ultimately finds the value or his or her supports to meet the rent is down €200 to €250 per month. In essence, this is another rent increase that is not captured. It is not necessarily captured in statistics but it is a very real rent increase. Let me refer to those who are unable to work, people on disability allowance, people I have been dealing with who cannot work and others who have a fixed low income and who have been forced out of their homes and who are then forced by the system to move from rent supplement to HAP. When they have a desire to work but cannot, they face an increase. That is another element of the rental crisis. It is highly complex. It has remained hidden and while there has been some protection during the pandemic, the edifice will come crashing down.

The aim of all the amendments is to recognise and strengthen the protections that have been in place and extend the deadlines to give people some kind of pause to help them to emerge from the pandemic in the best way possible and to ensure, despite all the systemic challenges in the rental market, irrespective of the pandemic, they can fight them with both hands and not have one hand, if not two, tied behind their backs.

Amendments Nos. 6, 8 and 9 are similar to those tabled by Deputy Duncan Smith, although they propose a different date. I would be happy with Deputy Duncan Smith's as alternatives if the Minister wishes to accept them as opposed to mine. Mine refer to the limited protections related to self-declaration by the 450 tenants. My proposals recognise that it will take time for incomes that have fallen due to Covid to recover in various sectors and for those who have built up debt over the Covid emergency to recover. The dates in this Bill are completely insufficient in that regard, and that is why I am tabling these amendments. Circumstances vary depending on the sector but, given how high rents are and how people are struggling to pay them, it is necessary for this Bill to extend the limited protections for a longer period.

It is welcome that the Minister has confirmed he is going to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to deal with the 8% rent increases. Those measures need to be strong and decisive. I hope they do not fall short.

I thank Deputies Duncan Smith and Cian O'Callaghan for their amendments. They have outlined the purpose of their amendments, which is to extend the deadlines concerning protections and eligibility.

In framing all the legislation we produced since the lifting of the blanket eviction ban, the concern I had and that was raised with me legally related to how legally sound the measure was. Anything we introduce has to be proportionate, whether people like it or not. Members will understand that we have to have targeted protections. Last July, this matter was being debated and Members raised grave concerns over massive increases, a tsunami of evictions and such issues. We must not, and I will not, be complacent about these issues but Members should note that what they predicted has not come to pass, thankfully. The number of homeless persons has continued to reduce, in the main. It is still far too high; there is no question about that.

There are many other points that Deputy Boyd Barrett and others have discussed here that form part of a wider debate on rental and tenancies, as opposed to what is covered by the amendments, but I must state this is the fifth item of tenancy-related legislation that has been introduced and there will be more. There will be more changes in advance of the recess. There will be a rent and tenancy reform Bill in the autumn and the Housing for All plan will be published in a matter of weeks. The latter will deal with rolling out cost rental, in particular, and increasing our housing supply, which is what we need.

I do not want to get into the whole housing debate. While it is valid and relevant, I am trying to stay focused on extending measures that we need. While only 455 people have accessed the protections referred to by Deputy Cian O'Callaghan, the fact that those protections exist has had an impact. I would rather a lower number, because only between 1% and 2% of tenancies ever end up in dispute. There are 300,000 tenancies and we have to make sure that, in the main, the relationship between tenant and landlord is good and that the protections for them are good and robust. I cannot accept any of the measures proposed in amendments Nos. 4 to 9, inclusive. The measures I am introducing are proportionate and time-bound. Were something else to happen in the autumn — God forbid — and additional, stronger protections were needed, I would come back to this House and introduce them, as I have shown in the past. I have demonstrated that I have been good to my word on that. Therefore, I cannot accept amendments Nos. 4 to 9, inclusive.

I want to pick up on something said regarding proportion. It is very difficult to discuss anything on housing without its being linked to the overall housing crisis. It is difficult to discuss anything in isolation. Everything is linked to the housing crisis. If we were to be proportionate about it, we would not get out of it in a couple of months or by next January. We have tabled amendments to extend the timeframe because we believe it is proportionate. That is just where we are coming from on that.

To be fair, considering that a limited cohort of people has been able to avail of the protections, because the system is quite complex, the Minister knows well that some of the 455 people will still have issues paying rent due to a loss of income owing to Covid beyond the date in the Bill. It would be absolutely proportionate to have an extended timeframe for the limited protections for the limited cohort. That would be completely proportionate. The Minister has not put forward the case as to why it would not be.

The Minister said the number becoming homeless continues to reduce. I must challenge him on this. Since the ban on evictions has been lifted, the number of families and children living in homeless emergency accommodation has increased. As the Minister responsible for housing, the Minister should be well aware of that. He is well aware of that.

I am aware of it.

If he is talking about reductions in the number becoming homeless, it would be fair for him to say what is correct, that is, that the number of families and children living in emergency homeless accommodation has, unfortunately and sadly, increased since the ban on evictions was lifted.

I do not want to get into a political back-and-forth with Deputy Cian O'Callaghan; he knows exactly what I said. I said the trend has been absolutely in the right direction. The number is still far too high; there is no question about that. Monthly figures on families, children and individuals who are homeless will be published on Friday and I expect to see a further reduction.

The figure has increased in some cohorts over the month. We will take the figures year on year, so I will not go down that road with the Deputy. I have explained why I cannot accept the amendments. We have to stay focused on extending the provisions. I have nothing more to say on amendments Nos. 4 to 9, inclusive, and I will not be accepting them.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 5 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 6, 8 and 9 are logical alternates.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 4, line 15, to delete “12 January 2022” and substitute “12 July 2022”.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 4, line 17, to delete “12 January 2022” and substitute “12 July 2022”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 4, line 19, to delete “13 January 2022” and substitute “13 July 2022”.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 2 agreed to.
Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.
NEW SECTION

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 5, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:

‘‘Amendment of section 19 of Act of 2004

5. Section 19 of the Act of 2004 is amended by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (4):

‘‘(4) Subject to subsection (5), in setting, at any particular time, the rent under a tenancy of a dwelling in a rent pressure zone, an amount of rent shall not be provided for that is greater than 4 per cent of the rent currently being paid by a sitting tenant or 4 per cent of the rent paid by the last tenant registered at the property.”.’’.

Given that we have limited time and I wish to expedite matters, with the agreement of the Acting Chairman and the Minister, I will speak to amendments Nos. 10, 12 and 13. They are the next amendments and we may be able to get through all of them if we discuss them now.

Amendment No. 13 is to section 12 which we have not yet reached. Amendments Nos. 10 to 12, inclusive, are to this section.

With the discretion of the Chair, I will speak to it amendment No. 13 and I will move it when we reach the section.

The purpose of my amendment No. 10 is to deal with the issue we spoke about a moment ago, the 8% increase. The 8% or 12% increase was not an accident or the result of a loophole. The Minister will remember that back in 2016, in the dying hours of that Dáil term, there was a late night suspension of the consideration of the rent pressure zone legislation because of the complexity of the mathematical formula. Given that it was produced by officials, probably under significant time pressure from the then Minister, it contained some errors and we had to take a break during the session. The poor officials had to work late into the night and we met again at 8 o’clock the next morning to try to resolve the issue. Even at that stage, it was clear that the way in which the mathematical formula for working out the rent increase was drafted would allow a landlord, if he or she did not increase the rent by 4% in a given year, to roll that increase over to the following years or subsequently. The reason this has become such a big issue now is that very few landlords availed of the facility as they took the 4% rent increase each year. However, because many landlords either could not increase rents last year and others did the decent thing and opted not to increase them, it has become a bigger issue.

I will withdraw amendment No. 10 on the basis of what the Minister said earlier. If he comes to the House with a resolution of this matter, he will find willing partners on this side of the House. The sooner we deal with the matter, the better. I appreciate the sensitivities and that the Minister is not able to go further. This cannot wait until the autumn and I take it that is also what the Minister is saying.

With respect to amendment No. 12, which I will not press either, the purpose was to allow us to air a very important issue and I hope the Minister will respond to it in detail. This relates to the optional opt-in for tenants, including students, to pay more than a month’s rent and a month’s rent deposit in advance. I said earlier that I understood the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science had a particular concern not in respect of students who are living in Ireland but students who come from abroad specifically for full terms and buy a package of education materials and accommodation from the university. Those students needed to be catered for in a different way. I fully accept that and there is no difficulty with it.

I have a real concern, however. If, as I understand it, the Minister intends to come back in the autumn with a resolution of this matter that narrows those exceptional grounds to only that category of students, it will leave a period between now and then where some students or indeed some tenants may be pressurised into paying more than one month’s rent and one month’s rent deposit in advance on an informal basis. I urge the Minister to work with the Union of Students in Ireland, USI, and Threshold from the time of the passing of this Bill to ensure there is a public awareness campaign on this issue. I am sure Threshold and USI would be very keen to participate in that to make students aware of what their entitlements are so that if any student or tenant is being pressurised, or feels in any way pressurised, to pay more than what this legislation requires, he or she can raise that issue formally.

As the Minister is aware, I raised a concern earlier that complaints cannot be made until the tenancy commences. That is another problem we need to deal with.

In respect of amendment No. 13, I do not want to have a row with the Minister on the broader point of the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act because I accept we are not going to agree on it. What I want him to hear from this side of the House is that, notwithstanding the fact that the Minister cannot or will not move towards a blanket ban on evictions and notices to quit during the Covid-19 pandemic period, he should at least accept that there are certain categories of tenants not covered by the provisions of the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act who should be considered as vulnerable in the same way. For example, a significant number of tenants from many parts of the country who have contacted me over the past ten months are not on a pandemic payment but have lost a portion of their income. To remain in their job they have reached a voluntary agreement with an employer, for example, to reduce their pay by 10% or 20%. These people are significantly income constrained. Their landlord may have increased the rent last year or this year and that is putting them under real pressure. They are doing either far too much to try to meet the rental payments or beginning to fall into rent arrears. However, they do not fit under the restrictive criteria of the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act.

I also know of tenants who have not lost income but are on very modest incomes and have experienced significant rent increases, particularly outside of rent pressure zones - the Minister knows the figures as well as I do - and who are under very significant pressure. The consequences of them falling into rent arrears and getting a notice to quit could be not only the loss of their current property but presentation into homelessness with all of the risks that contains.

In respect of the homeless figures, again we only have the April figures to date but, as Deputy Cian O’Callaghan correctly pointed out, there has been a month-on-month increase in the overall figures and that is driven by family homelessness. We obviously have to wait until we have the May and June figures to see if there is a trend.

My big worry, and I am saying this to the Minister with all sincerity, is that the 3,800 rent warning notices and 1,122 notices to quit issued from August 2020 to May 2021 are now in the system. As of 22 April, when the ban on evictions that applied under the 5 km level 5 restriction was lifted, these notices will now work their way through the system. The Minister will know that on this issue I have never used some of the phrases that others have used. I am genuinely concerned, however, that we could see, month on month, a slow, steady increase in homelessness presentations as those notices to quit begin expiring, in particular by families. What we also know from the RTB data recently released to me is that almost 80% of those notices to quit are for sale of property or use by a family member as opposed to rent arrears. Whether those are the actual reasons, we do not know.

There are groups of people who need some protection. I urge the Minister to ensure that people who are vulnerable today and do not get the protections available to the 475 individuals who have submitted written declarations do not get lost in the system. We need to ensure they are also protected.

I will support the amendment before us, in particular, along with the other amendments in the grouping. It covers some of the ground we sought to cover in our amendments Nos. 14 and 15.

It seems the Minister does not really want to answer the question that is being asked about these tenants. I never used the word "tsunami", by the way, although I acknowledge it has been bandied about a bit. I know, because I am dealing with a case I have mentioned many times in the House, that there is a group of human beings for whom, as soon as the 5 km travel restriction linked to the blanket ban on evictions was lifted, the clock began ticking on their eviction, namely, the tenants at St. Helen's Court. Now they are overholding because they have nowhere to go, but they have been evicted. They had protection, which the Minister took from them with that change. He has stated that he will introduce more comprehensive protections, which is good, but will they protect people in those circumstances? In the meantime, a group of people I know, and there have to be others, including some of the 1,122 tenants in the system who were mentioned, will be in similar circumstances.

It is worth considering the logic driving some of these evictions and why it is even more right that the Government should provide them with protection against these uncaring evictions. Deputy Ó Broin's amendment relates to the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. I have to hand a copy of a determination order from a hearing of the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, that I attended on behalf of some of those residents. It really tells a story. I sat through the hearing and was disgusted by what happened, and I have since read over the document. The tenants were living in an apartment block and paying rent. Their landlord, obviously, got into trouble and a vulture fund came in and bought the apartment block. It tried to raise the rent by 60% or 70%, which would have driven out the tenants, but it backed off because the tenants resisted and took the case to the Residential Tenancies Board. The fund then issued a spurious eviction order against all the tenants on the grounds that it was going to refurbish the property, and the tenants rightly made the case at the time, a few years ago, that they did not need to be evicted to allow the place to be refurbished. It was a ruse to get them out, and they fought that successfully.

It was getting a bit embarrassing. PwC was representing the large American vulture fund and I raised the matter in the House. I do not know whether it subcontracted the dirty work of evicting the tenants to another crowd but then a crowd known as Mill Street Projects Limited came in and took over the case in 2019. It is based at an address I do not believe exists - Aught, Ture, Muff, or something - that spans three townlands in Donegal. I do not know how a company can have an address in three different townlands and an address in Derry where, when it is contacted, nobody is ever there. The company seems to be quite an outfit. In any event, it took over the case in 2019 and tried to evict the remaining tenants, many of whom had left at this stage, although there were originally 20 of them. Many of them had left because the stress of it was too much for them, but others had nowhere to go, so they were still there.

This crowd then issued an eviction notice stating that it had not decided whether it would sell or refurbish the property but it wanted the tenants out in any case. That ran foul of the Tyrrelstown amendment which, obviously, the company's legal advisers had not sussed out, so it backed off at the last minute. A few weeks later, it stated that it was not actually going to evict ten tenants, because that was not allowed, so it would evict eight of them instead, as if it was not going to come back later and get the other two. We contacted the RTB, with the tenants and Threshold, and explained what was blatantly obvious, that is, that it was a ruse, that the company was going to evict eight of the tenants because it could not evict ten and that it was going to come back for the other two as soon as the legislation allowed it to do that, which I think was six months later.

The cold logic of the hearing is worth considering. The tenants had explained that this was a ruse and that they had done nothing wrong, and the representative of the landlord confirmed he was employed by the landlord company as an investment manager. The determination order quotes him as stating that it was his job to assess all options for the dwelling with a view to realising the best value, and he submitted that it was always the landlord's intention to refresh and resell the dwelling based on a commercial decision. It goes on to state that a named real estate agent had been engaged for the purposes of sale and that the landlord had created an owner-manager company and reiterated it was always the company's intention to sell it following a refresh he estimated would take ten or 12 weeks.

In other words, the landlord was saying clearly to the RTB that it had bought the place in 2019, and the only thing it had ever intended to do was evict the tenants to increase its value and flip it on, and that is allowed.

Can we stick to the amendment?

Those tenants deserve protection now because that is a ruthless logic. This is not the mom-and-pop landlord often referred to as a justification for the lack of protections; this is cold, ruthless, profit-driven logic. These people have no intention of being landlords to tenants. They have one intention and one intention only, that is, to make profit by putting people out in the street.

Why would the Minister not want to take this opportunity to protect such tenants? That is the question and I have never got an answer to it. Is it his intention to stop that type of behaviour and, if so, why will he not do it now? That is a serious question. Real people's well-being and mental health, in the context of having a place to live and not being forced into crisis situations, depend on the answer he gives to that question.

I welcome some of the changes proposed in the Bill, especially those that will impact on students. It is good that there will be limits in regard to how much landlords can request as deposits but, unfortunately, there is a loophole. Let us be honest, if unscrupulous landlords who abused the system last year find another loophole, they will do the same again this year. That is why one of our amendments, which will delete from the section lines 18 to 22, inclusive, seeks to stop the exploitation of students and their families by closing any loopholes that might exist. We welcome the tone and what the Minister is trying to do for students but we are just trying to improve the legislation in that regard. The onus is on us to try to improve legislation where it can be improved on, and I ask that he take a constructive, solution-based approach to what we are putting forward.

Earlier today, I spoke about a lady who was renting with her family for 11 years. Her children had always lived in the same house and knew no other home. They lived there for 11 years. Last week, they were given a notice to quit by the landlord. In other words, they were being evicted. I welcome the points made by the Minister earlier about a review and the legislation he hopes to bring forward in the autumn relating to renters, but where is the protection for that lady and her family?

I will give the Minister a number of other cases to highlight the lack of protections. A man contacted my office about his father, who had first rented his house 40 years ago with his wife, who has since passed away, unfortunately. The father got a notice to quit and now the son is asking where his father go after paying rent and living in a house for 40 years? I have an even more extreme case than that one. A man, who I consider a close personal friend, has lived in rented accommodation in Cork city for 73 years. He was born in the house. He received a notice to quit along with other tenants who live in a privately owned block of houses. How can a person live in a home and pay rent for 73 years and have no protection? That is what the Minister, this Government and the previous Government, which he supported, going right back, have done. They have never protected renters.

Any further legislation brought forward that relates to housing must include proper secure protection for renters. A lady who became homeless contacted me last week. She was lucky. Cork City Council helped her and her child to get into emergency accommodation. This is a lady who works. This is not a person who some might consider to be down on her luck. This is a lady who has a job, who had a home, but because of circumstances, she ended up in emergency accommodation last weekend in Cork. How is that right in this day and age? Deputy Ó Broin referred to 1,122 people who received notices to quit up to May. I personally met with five individuals and families in June who also received notices to quit. Let us call a spade a spade: a notice to quit is an eviction notice. That is what it means to the families involved. These are real people.

Many renters are afraid to let landlords know they are struggling to pay their rent, because trying to find decent accommodation is virtually impossible now on a budget. People are either living in substandard accommodation or are paying far more than they can afford, trying to keep a roof over their head. We put forward amendments, but on the greater scale of things we need the Minister and this Government to stand up, to step up and to put protections in place, because renters cannot find accommodation. People who are living in rented accommodation are struggling to pay the rent. What the Government is doing, in allowing a possible 8% rent increase, will drive many people over the edge. Will the Minister reconsider this?

I am just speaking on amendment No. 12, which is about the potential voluntary opt-out for tenants from these protections. I understand there is a rationale for this. It has been explained as allowing for a situation where international students pay for accommodation and fees as a bundle or as a package. I agree with Deputy Ó Broin that this opt-out is wide open to exploitation in the interim while it is envisaged to bring more specific measures forward in the autumn to deal with this. I have a concern. I support the protections being brought forward, but any protections should apply to all renters and tenants, be they students or otherwise, or international students or otherwise. While I accept there has been a practice to sell educational courses in bundles or packages with accommodation, this potentially leaves international students open to be exploited to a degree that other renters would not be. That is unfair and discriminatory.

There was a situation this year where many international students were mis-sold packages of courses here with accommodation. They were given assurances that they would get in person, on-campus teaching for a year. After they paid for their accommodation and courses, those assurances were withdrawn. I think some of the colleges and institutions that gave those assurances may well have known they could not stand over those assurances. That was beyond their control. These protections should apply to all, including international students. I do not agree with the opt-out. It is important that, in the future, international students are protected from that.

There was a cohort of international students who paid for their accommodation upfront, who were living in isolation in cities and parts of Ireland where they did not know people and had not met friends through college or campus life. They had no recourse to get any of their fees back on their accommodation. Given the conditions they found themselves in, a number of them would have preferred to return to their home country to continue their course online. They were stuck in the situation of having paid their entire accommodation fees upfront. They were in the same situation that other students were unfairly stuck in. The intent of extending the protections should apply to all. There should not be an intention to provide an opt-out, albeit considered voluntary or otherwise, for international students. I will press the amendment. While I accept there is a rationale, I do not agree with it.

I will deal with a number of issues that have been raised. On amendment No. 10, I understand from Deputy Ó Broin's contribution that he will withdraw this amendment. I thank him for his understanding in that regard. We are actively working on that and I intend to come back on that within a short period of time. I think the Deputy understands why I cannot expand too much on that at this stage. I acknowledge that and we all want to get to the position where that issue is resolved. It is resolvable, work is ongoing and we will do that.

I refer to the issue Deputy O'Callaghan finished on and which others spoke about. It is in relation to the restriction of the upfront payment to two months' rent. I think we all agree that this is a good thing and that it needs to happen. It will be one month's rent upfront with the deposit.

The issue relating specifically to students evolved from engagement we had within the sector. If soft pressure is being put on someone, it is an opt-out measure. First, the protections apply to everyone. One would have to opt out of the two-month payment if there was a good reason for this. I take on board the point made by Deputy Ó Broin. We will look at this further in the context that it should not be exploited. If someone were to exploit it and apply soft pressure, that would be illegal on the passing of this Bill. Fundamentally, that would be illegal. One area I will look at and commit to doing so in the autumn is about specifically a complaint being made if one did not enter into a tenancy because a landlord sought more than legally entitled to. That is our intention to make sure this actually happens and that the RTB will field those complaints. We will work on that issue.

I refer to the public awareness campaign. My Department and I have been working with Threshold on the tenancy rights piece. We have been working with John-Mark McCafferty, and others, on that. We have had information campaigns throughout the course of this year, but I intend, when we have the rent reform Bill in the autumn, that we will have a full suite of protections and changes for renters.

Any measures we take have to be proportionate and people understand that. We could have a situation where we may bring in changes that might seem like a good idea or, and I do not mean this in an offensive way, a populist idea or which may garner immediate popular support. We must be careful that we do not tip the balance in relation to supply. We have had many debates and will have further debates on rent, accommodation, cost rental and social housing provision. It is the intention of this Government to increase housing supply substantially - public housing on public land, cost rental, affordable purchase - and we are doing that. We will have our first cost rental tenancies this year.

We will not be waiting for next year and we need to scale that up further.

I understand Deputy Ó Broin is withdrawing amendment No. 10. In relation to the other areas, I cannot accept No. 12. It is an opt-out. The provision aims to help any student who may wish to manage his or her finances in a different way. The Deputy is right that much of that relates to international students coming to Ireland, sometimes because of the way packages are sold, but it is for them to be able to manage those payments. That request has come from the sector. The Deputy has the right to move the amendment, which I respect, but we will keep it under close watch. There should be no exploitation of this or soft pressure. It allows an opt-out should a person decide to avail of it. I take the point made by Members.

I assure Deputy Boyd Barrett that other measures and protections will come forward in the autumn. There are people whose incomes have been affected - to get to Deputy Ó Broin's point - who may have reduced income and find it more difficult to pay the rent. I am always at pains to tell people to access the emergency rent supplements that are there. Not as many people as one would think have accessed them and it is a simplified process for those who are or are not working to help them make their payments. We have not yet seen a substantial increase in rent arrears and that is because of the State supports that have been agreed by this Oireachtas and were put forward by the Government.

The fundamental part of this Bill is to make sure we extend protections further for those who need it most. I encourage people to look towards the self-declaration. It is with the RTB, which I have encouraged to engage in a public information campaign along with Threshold about what this is so people can access it. They should access it if they feel they meet the criteria.

We have covered the other elements in great detail already so, respectfully, I will not accept any of the amendments in this grouping.

We are on section 5, so we will just deal with amendments Nos. 10 to 12, inclusive. We can come back to the other ones. I gave a bit of leeway on the last section.

With respect to amendment No. 12, I will pick up a point Deputy Cian O'Callaghan made which I think is quite important. My understanding of the change in terms of an early termination of a tenancy by a tenant with 28 days' notice is that it should deal with the concern the Deputy is raising. If it does not, I would share his concerns about international students who prepay if, for reasons that are not their fault, they have to terminate the rental agreement early and would not get the full refund. I am keen to hear the Minister respond to that. If students who prepay as part of an education, materials and accommodation bundle has, for some legitimate reason, to terminate the agreement early, surely they could avail of the 28 days' notice provided for in this Bill. If that was the case then, unlike last year, they would get full refunds if something similar happened in future. If that was not the case, the loophole is even more problematic than I thought. Will the Minister clarify that point?

I will check out that point. It is a good point. I understand if they had paid in advance above the two months and availed of the 28-day notice period, any rent paid past that date should be refundable. I will double-check that with officials this evening and respond to Deputies. We need to further clarify but that is my understanding of how it is read right now. The notice period is there for a valid reason. We learned valuable lessons through Covid, particularly with students who paid semesters up front and were not able to access their campus. Generally, there is a willingness in the sector to rectify this. It was difficult for the students and their families who paid out a lot of money and there was a degree of adverse publicity around it. It has done some reputational damage that others would not want to see happen again. We will double-check that and revert to Deputies tomorrow.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
SECTION 5
Amendment No. 11 not moved.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 5, to delete lines 18 to 22.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 5 agreed to.
Sections 6 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
NEW SECTIONS

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 6, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 4 of Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020

12. Section 4 of the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020 is amended, in subsection 6, by the insertion of the following paragraph:

“(d) any other person who, in the view of the Residential Tenancies Board, is at risk of losing their tenancy despite endeavouring to fully comply with the terms of their tenancy agreement and where the termination of that tenancy would put that person at risk of homelessness or at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.”.”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 50; Níl, 74; Staon, 0.

  • Barry, Mick.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Níl

  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Cian O'Callaghan and Eoin Ó Broin; Níl, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers.
Amendment declared lost.
Deputy Holly Cairns did not vote in this division due to an agreed pairing arrangement with Minister Helen McEntee for the duration of the Minister’s maternity leave.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 6, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

Amendment of Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020

12. Section 5 of the Act of 2020 is amended to read:

“5. (1) All Notices of Termination of tenancy which fall to be served during or after the enactment of this Act are hereby deemed invalid and no notice of eviction on any grounds may be served on any tenant until this Act is repealed.

(2) All subsequent Notices of Termination shall comply with the minimum notice periods applicable and date from the date they are served after the repeal of Covid-19 Emergency Measures in the Public Interest.”.”.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 51; Níl, 76; Staon, 0.

  • Barry, Mick.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Níl

  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Murphy and Richard Boyd Barrett; Níl, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers.
Amendment declared lost.
Deputy Holly Cairns did not vote in this division due to an agreed pairing arrangement with Minister Helen McEntee for the duration of the Minister’s maternity leave.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 6, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

“Amendment of Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020

12. Section 6 of the Act of 2020 is amended by inserting new paragraph after paragraph (b):

“and

(c) any rent increases that could have legitimately been served during or after the enactment of this Act can not accumulate or be backdated at the end of the emergency period.”.”.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 53; Níl, 75; Staon, 0.

  • Barry, Mick.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Níl

  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Murphy and Richard Boyd Barrett; Níl, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers.
Amendment declared lost.
Deputy Holly Cairns did not vote in this division due to an agreed pairing arrangement with Minister Helen McEntee for the duration of the Minister’s maternity leave.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 6, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

"Reports

12. (1) That the Minister will, within 6 weeks of the passing of this Act, bring a report on the numbers of people who have been evicted since the beginning of the emergency period.

(2) That the Minister will, within 6 weeks of the passing of this Act, bring a report on the numbers of people who have had rent increases of 4 per cent and the numbers who have had increases of 8 per cent since the beginning of the emergency period.".

Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 12 agreed to.
Preamble agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.