Upon the government-mandated lifting of eviction bans across Ireland, Simran Kathuria investigates the effects of ending this moratorium on renters in Dublin.
“Housing for people and not for profit” is the voice on the streets of Dublin. Posters and banners with affordable cost of living and housing for all written in bold have become the new sight in the lanes of the city. The Irish capital (along with other counties) is facing its worst accommodation crisis in decades, and people are demanding immediate solutions. The latest move by the Irish Government to uplift the Eviction ban has deepened the existing crisis for renters, especially students in the city.
“How am I going to find a new place and shift alone?” is the worry of a 25-year-old marketing student living and studying in Dublin. Surta, a student from Technical University Dublin, is in search of a new home as the cost of student accommodations in the city has skyrocketed. “I am bound to shift because I cannot afford to pay Euro 1,200 per month anymore,” she says. After living in student accommodation for a couple of months, she is now hoping to find another place to ease the burden on her pocket.
The move to ban evictions first came during Covid-19, and was later re-introduced in October 2022 as insurance for renters in the city. But the latest decision by the government to uplift the ban has put renters at risk of getting homeless. The ban on eviction was lifted on 1 April which resulted in mass protests by volunteers, Home Aid groups, and those affected by the move.
‘Ending the ban will create a social catastrophe. All this is being done for money. So, either we break the law or sleep on the streets,’
According to a report in The Irish Times, The People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said, “Today [1 April] is a day of shame” as the eviction ban lapsed. He further added that “they [the Government] decided to deliberately allow the eviction of thousands and thousands of men, women, and children. People who are ill, people who are elderly, working people, paying their taxes, people who have done nothing wrong whatsoever, to be evicted.”
Homelessness groups have heavily criticized the ending of the ban, with long-term homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry labeling it “a horror movie” for renters, reports RTÉ.
“Ending the ban will create a social catastrophe. All this is being done for money. So, either we break the law or sleep on the streets,” says James O’Toole, a tenant at Tathoney House in Dublin 8. He has recently been handed the notice by his landlord to evict. He adds, “The ban would have given us more time to find another place. It was a safety net for renters, and government should bring it back.” James is among the thirty-five families living in Tathony house for over 10 years who have now been told to move out, with nowhere to go. “The uncertainty is worst; you never dream about getting evicted,” he says as ambiguity looms in his mind.
‘Amid the chaos of rising prices and the worry of finding accommodation, the decision to lift the eviction ban has been termed ‘heartless’ by activists and housing aid communities and groups.’
The latest figures released by the Department of Housing show 11,742 people currently taking refuge in homeless shelters. According to the new data approximately 1,600 families, over 3,300 children, and more than 6,000 people are dealing with homelessness in Dublin alone. The Dublin city council’s puzzling relationship with the housing department is increasing the pain of the renters, making Ireland anything but welcoming.
Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin termed the latest homeless figures as “shocking and unacceptable.”
Amid the chaos of rising prices and the worry of finding accommodation, the decision to lift the eviction ban has been termed ‘heartless’ by activists and housing aid communities and groups.
During a chat on housing issues with the University Observer, a People Before Profit councillor, Madeleine Johansson, said that with this move renters are bound to become homeless. Talking about tenant rights she said that those rules are meant to be in place to protect tenants from exploitation at the hands of landlords.
“4,300 eviction notices have been issued in the last quarter of 2022, and the numbers are rising. People will become homeless. The landlords want to sell their place, but where will the people go? The living standards are falling massively, with low-paid workers and daily wagers being affected the most.”
The upliftment announcement has come at a tense time when the rental market is picking holes in the pocket of the middle class.
“I don’t understand how this government is working, and if they want to solve the crisis or not.”
Meanwhile, homelessness aid organization Threshold is urging tenants with eviction notices or those uncertain about their rights to contact them.
“We are reaching out to tenants who have received a notice of termination and educating them about their rights. We want people to know about the tenancy agreements and request them to call our expert advisors to receive support”, said Ann-Marie O’Reilly, Threshold’s National Advocacy Manager, during an interview with The University Observer.
“The ban was just like a pause and was to be lifted anyway. This was not a permanent solution to the housing problem we are facing. But for those who are unsure, we are here to help. Nobody should find themselves on the streets.”
Meanwhile, tenants like James with eviction notices plan to stay longer passing out on the move-out date. “People should overhold and seek help from NGOs, Unions, and aid groups. Legal approach is the best approach. We cannot just leave the house without anywhere to go.”
The cost-of-living crisis has left renters and immigrants, especially students in limbo, with many struggling to fill the financial gap. The race to find a place in the city seems never ending with protestors calling out for affordable housing schemes.