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Surge in cases going into rent arrears,

29 May 2020

Friday 29 May: The national housing charity Threshold has received an increase in cases of tenants who have gone into rent arears as the Covid 19 pandemic continues to cause instability in the rental market.

Threshold is calling for an immediate extension of the moratorium on evictions and rent increases, due to expire on June 27th.

“In the first few weeks of the Covid19 pandemic, the rent arrears reported ranged from as little as €50 to as high of €2,800, with some clients being up to three months in arrears”, according to the CEO of Threshold John-Mark McCafferty.  “Many callers foresee their arrears position steadily worsening arising from concerns that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment may be reduced.

“Most of those calling us are younger single people living in house shares.  69% of callers have lost their income as a result of COVID-19 public health measures.  While the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) has been quick to process payments and to pay rents above the usual caps, many people do not know they can apply for rent supplement and so significant arrears have accumulated. Unless this is rectified Threshold expect the scale of rent arrears to worsen.”

 

Calling for an extension of the moratorium on evictions beyond the current June 27th deadline, he said this should be announced immediately to reduce the high levels of stress being experienced by many households.

“The alternative is that we will see a wave of tenants without a home 28 days after the moratorium does end.  Even now during the moratorium, a landlord can still issue a 14-day or 28-day warning in relation to such arrears.  If the arrears are not paid in that time frame the landlord will be in a position to issue a notice to quit when the moratorium expires. The manner in which a landlord can evict for rent arrears needs to be revised to avoid such a wave.”

 

The Chairperson of Threshold Aideen Hayden also urged support for a number of measures to help tenants to resolve rent arrears to include formalised repayment plans, access to additional/enhanced financial supports, long-term low interest state supported loans and debt forgiveness.

 

“This crisis will not be resolved in a short period”, Ms Hayden said.  “Tenants are anxious to deal with arrears and to feel secure in their tenancies but they will need support including advice, low-interest loans and in some cases debt forgiveness.”

Threshold has dealt with 6,787 cases so far this year, which required 46,757 actions including 5,954 actions so far on Covid-19 related cases. The number of actions reflects the increasing complexity of cases presenting to Threshold.

 

Ms Hayden urged tenants facing difficulty to contact Threshold. “We provide a wide range of information and advice, both on our website and via our Freephone helpline.  Don’t hesitate if you need advice, need our help in contacting your landlord to protect your tenancy or in engaging with DEASP.”

 

For advice and support contact Threshold’s freephone Covid-19 helpline on 1800 77 88 99, from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.