Increase of 28% year-on-year
Charity calls for moratorium on evictions to be extended to March at the least
National housing charity Threshold has revealed that a total of 78 calls were made by renters to its freephone helpline during Christmas week, an average rate of 11 calls per day and an increase of 28% on the same period in 2019.
During the seven-day period, 24 December to 1 January, the busiest day was 28 December, with a total of 21 calls, followed by 29 December (14 calls). Threshold’s advisors took 13 calls on Christmas Eve (24 December), 30 December and New Year’s Eve (31 December) respectively. There was one call to Threshold’s helpline on Christmas Day (25 December) and three calls on New Year’s Day (1 January).
More than a quarter (26%) of queries received during the period related to tenancy termination. This was followed by queries in relation to standards and repairs (10%) and HAP or rent supplement (10%).
Of those callers who disclosed their location, half (50%) were based in Dublin, followed by Galway (11%), Cork (9%), Limerick (7%) and Kerry (7%). Calls came from a total of 12 counties across Ireland, representing all four provinces. The majority of callers who contacted Threshold during the period were doing so for the first time.
Speaking about the figures John-Mark McCafferty, CEO of Threshold said: “The volume of calls made to Threshold’s helpline during Christmas week illustrates the crisis that private tenants in Ireland are facing, even in spite of the protections introduced in 2020. Tenancy terminations and standards and repairs continue to present as persistent issues. As much as anyone else, renters deserve a safe, secure home at all times of the year, but unfortunately many continue to be denied this.
“In light of reports that the current Level 5 restrictions are likely to be extended past the end of January, Threshold is calling for the extension of the blanket moratorium on evictions into March at the earliest. This would provide some certainty to those in the private rented sector, many of whom remain in precarious circumstances.”
The difficulty faced by renters in Ireland is highlighted by the case of one of Threshold’s clients, Rowena*. Served with a Notice of Termination on 22 December, Rowena, a healthcare worker, was expected to vacate the home that she shared with her landlord by New Year’s Day. As a licensee, Rowena’s tenure is not covered by the moratorium on evictions.
Threshold’s housing advisors immediately intervened on Rowena’s behalf and negotiated with her landlord to secure an extension until 10 February, when the current Level 5 restrictions come to an end.
On New Year’s Day Threshold received a call from Timothy* who also faced the prospect of homelessness in the midst of a pandemic. Timothy’s landlord wanted him to vacate the home he had rented for the last five years by 5 January, despite the moratorium on evictions which applied to Timothy’s tenancy. Threshold’s housing advisors liaised with Timothy’s landlord who explained that the property is in receivership and needs to be sold. Threshold’s advisors secured an agreement that Timothy can remain in his home until he secures an alternative place to live.
Chairperson of Threshold, Aideen Hayden said: “The moratoriums on evictions have worked to stem the flow of people from the private rented sector into homelessness. However licensees still have no protection under the Residential Tenancies Act or these moratoriums. This leaves an entire cohort of renters completely vulnerable to eviction and without recourse if they have been treated unfairly. We believe that licensees should be afforded protections under the Residential Tenancies Act, similar to what has been done for residents of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation.
“While the protections introduced in 2020 have provided relief to many, it is clear to see that they have not made renters’ problems disappear altogether. We would appeal to any renter in distress to contact Threshold’s freephone helpline for support from our expert housing advisors.”
Threshold’s helpline remains available Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm at 1800 454 454, and via its website at https://www.threshold.ie/advice/help for any renter in need of advice or support.
*Clients’ names have been changed to protect anonymity