Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Barry Cowen TD says the 8 families who have been served with eviction notices at Grove Island in Limerick would not be in the position they now find themselves in if Minister Coveney had acted to prevent mass evictions from occurring.
Deputy Cowen pointed out that Minister Coveney rejected a key amendment to the Residential Tenancies Bill 2016 just last December which would have prevented mass evictions from taking place.
Deputy Cowen said, “In recent months we have seen an increase in the number of mass evictions taking place as a result of Minister Coveney’s failure to strengthen tenancy rights. The legislation put forward by Minister Coveney originally sought to prohibit landlords from evicting 20 or more families in a single development when the sale of the property is cited.
“Fianna Fáil introduced an amendment which sought to reduce this figure to 5 in light of the attempted mass eviction at Tyrrelstown. This amendment offered more secure occupancy to a larger number of tenants, without infringing constitutional rights or having a detrimental impact on the rental market.
“However Minister Coveney rejected our amendment at the last minute and re-raised the number of units to 10 in a single development. This decision removed tens of thousands of potential properties from the coverage of the provision.
“The Government argued that it had legal advice which showed that the number had to be 10 in order to ensure it could mount a robust defence against a possible constitutional challenge. We have since seen the legal advice from the Attorney General and are of the opinion that this does not in any way disallow our amendment, which sought to expand coverage of the tenancy protection from eviction.
“It’s ridiculous to see Minister Coveney attempting to personally intervene for the 8 families in Grove Island when you consider the fact that he had the chance to prevent such mass evictions from occurring as recently as last December. He made a deliberate decision before Christmas to disregard the plight of families in rented accommodation when he chose to side with vulture funds.
“Fianna Fáil believe that changes are needed which give greater security to a larger number of tenants without leading to the infringement of constitutional rights and widespread uncertainty in the rental sector.
“It should no longer be the norm that vacant possession is allowed with families removed from their homes where a rental property is put on the market or goes into receivership. I believe such an approach can be robustly defended against Constitutional Challenge.”