asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the proposals by a private landlord (details supplied) to obtain vacant possession of blocks of flats, as a result of which most of the tenants concerned will be forced to seek local authority housing with a consequent expansion of demand on the already crowded waiting list for accommodation from Dublin Corporation; and if he will make representations to the landlord in question to ensure that the present tenants can remain on in their homes.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dispossession of Dublin Tenants.
I have received representations from tenants of the blocks of flats concerned. The matter is, however, one between a landlord and his tenants, and not one in which I, as Minister for the Environment, have any functions or powers, nor is there any action that I can usefully take in connection with it.
Would the Minister not agree that this new development of companies—the names of the directors of which are difficult, if not impossible, to find out—purchasing whole blocks of flats and then proceeding to use the existing law to virtually evict existing tenants is another development in speculation by unscrupulous people of the basic needs of our people?
It would appear that some tenants have been served with notices to quit by the landlords, Associated Properties Limited. The Minister for the Environment has no power or function with regard to such matters. The general question of the security of tenure of the tenancy is one which comes within the area of the landlord and tenant code, which is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice. As Deputies know, the circumstances of this matter came about through a judgment in the High Court which the courts of the land have now decided upon.
It is not appealed.
While the question submitted by Deputy Quinn is in relation to a particular block of flats, it is not an isolated case. In Rialto, there are 108 tenants under threat of eviction, some of whom are extremely old people who have lived there all their lives, because of a similar operation by a group of people whose identity is almost impossible to establish. The social effects of this type of operation are, to say the least, very distasteful indeed. Deputy Quinn, to my knowledge,——
Would the Deputy ask a question, please?
Through the Chair, Deputy Quinn brought this matter to the attention of the Minister for Justice, who also said that he had no function in the matter and could not deal with it. Surely, as this is affecting so many people, as there is a clear indication that it is another form of exploitation by the same people engaged in speculation in land, the Government should take immediate action?
As the Deputy knows and must appreciate, we are in the hands of our courts. Under a hearing which took place in the High Court, a certain portion of the Act was judged to be unconstitutional. I have no information available here about owners of other rented properties. It is a matter for the Minister for Justice to see what he can do to bring about a better situation.
(Cavan-Monaghan): Have the Minister or the Government any proposals to deal with the difficult situation that will arise out of the High Court decision?
No, my Department have not. It is a matter for the Minister for Justice. I am unable to say what the Department of Justice are doing about it.
(Cavan-Monaghan): Is it proposed to change the usage of those flats?
What does the Deputy mean by "usage"?
(Cavan-Monaghan): They are used as dwellings now. Is it proposed to use them as dwellings, or is it proposed to use them for some other purpose?
I do not know.
(Cavan-Monaghan): Would the Minister keep an eye on this?
It can be looked into but it is a matter for another Department.
(Cavan-Monaghan): I do not think so. This is a matter for the Department of the Environment.
The Minister said this is a matter for the Minister for Justice. Have there been any representations or discussions between the Department of the Environment and the Department of Justice in regard to this type of development?
Not as far as I know.
Would the Minister accept that it is grossly irresponsible of his Department, who will be directly affected by this type of operation, that no discussion has taken place and no progress has been made?
As I stated earlier, this is a matter for another Department. I want to make it absolutely clear that I have no control over our courts.
Does the Minister not accept that the function of our courts is to interpret and implement the laws passed by this House?
Deputy Cluskey knows well that many laws were passed in this House and later were found to be unconstitutional.