Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Questions (556)

Richard Boyd Barrett


556. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will work with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to ensure that the apartments at a location (details supplied) that are the subject of eviction cases by an organisation are brought into public ownership in order to secure homes for these tenants, four of which are HAP tenancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38763/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Acquisition of a property for social housing is a matter for each local authority to consider on a case by case basis. Households on HAP are given the opportunity when coming into the scheme to indicate whether they have an interest in going onto a transfer list for local authority or Approved Housing Body owned housing. Allocations to such housing are in accordance with the relevant local authority's allocation scheme.

Under HAP, a tenant sources their own accommodation in the private rented market. The tenancy agreement is between the tenant and the landlord and is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as amended). Where a tenancy is ending, the household will need to seek alternative accommodation in the private rented market. If a household encounters challenges in securing alternative accommodation, my Department has put both financial and personnel resources in place in local authorities to assist through the HAP Placefinder.

In relation to the provision of HAP in the specified location, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has confirmed that they are presently supporting three HAP tenancies at that location and that the Council has not, to date, had any contact from those tenants in respect of eviction notices or notices of termination.

As regards evictions, as you will be aware, the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2019, with one of its key functions being to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. Due to the quasi-judicial and independent role of the RTB, it would be inappropriate for me, as Minister, to intervene in specific disputes.

A number of measures have been introduced in recent years with the objective of improving security of tenure for tenants under the Residential Tenancies Acts. Section 34 of the 2004 Act provides that a landlord must state a reason for the termination in any notice served, in accordance with the allowable grounds for terminations. Through an amendment introduced in 2016, where a landlord proposes to sell 10 or more units within a single development at the same time, that sale is subject to the existing tenants remaining in situ, other than in exceptional circumstances. In addition, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 provides that where a landlord terminates a tenancy because he/she intends to sell the property, he/she must enter into a contract for sale within 9 months of the termination date and, if not, must offer to re-let to a former tenant who provides their contact details.

The 2019 Act also provides that where a landlord terminates a tenancy because he/she needs vacant possession to substantially refurbish/renovate the property, that property must be offered back to the former tenant who provides their contact details, upon completion of the works. Also, such a termination notice must contain or be accompanied by a written certificate of a registered professional under the Building Control Act 2007, such as an architect or surveyor, stating that the proposed substantial refurbishment/renovation works would pose a health and safety risk necessitating vacation by the tenants and that such a risk would be likely to exist for at least 3 weeks.

The 2019 Act provides additional powers for the RTB to investigate and sanction landlords who engage in improper conduct, including non-compliance with the tenancy termination provisions. My Department will continue to keep the effectiveness and enforcement of the security of tenure provisions in the Acts under review.