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Threshold welcomes extension of the moratorium on rent increases and evictions – but regrets the short time period

19 June 2020

National housing charity Threshold has today welcomed the announcement that the moratorium on evictions and rent increases is to be extended, but warns that the measures should be extended further to provide sufficient protection to tenants in the private rented sector as the country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

John-Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive of Threshold said: “The extension of the moratorium announced today will bring some relief to tenants impacted by the Covid-19 emergency. However, the government has only chosen to extend these measures to the end of July which brings little in the way of security for these tenants. While the country opens back up and people return to work, the risks of losing one’s home and the dire consequences that come with that have not lessened, nor are they likely to have lessened significantly by the end of July.

 

“As of the 16th of June, 498,700 people were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. A large proportion of these are likely living in the private rented sector. An additional four weeks of protection provides little comfort, little security and leaves tenants in situations of limbo; tenants need the moratoriums extended for more than four weeks.

 

“We do not yet have a strong sense of the medium- to long-term impact of the ‘pancession’ that faces the country in the wake of the crisis, so we need to be building in supports and as much certainty as possible for renters at this time. Given that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment itself and amendments to the rent supplement application process are to be extended by a further three months, it should follow that the moratoriums on evictions and rent increases be extended for a similar period, and not on a month-to-month basis as this extension suggests.”

 

“As the public health advice is to stay at home when at all possible, our collective understanding of home as a refuge, where one is protected and safe, has taken on even greater meaning,” said Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold. “There are tenants living under the threat of forced eviction and the moratorium offers a layer of protection to these tenants. Unfortunately despite the moratorium, a small number of landlords have evicted tenants during this time, taking away their refuge. Additional supports are required to keep these tenants in their homes and hold these landlords to account.

 

“Some tenants have and will accrue rent arrears, even with the support of rent supplement and HAP. Extending the moratorium past the timeframe of the pandemic will provide most tenants with sufficient time to address these rent arrears. Not doing so will result in a wave of tenants without a home 28 days after the moratorium ends. Rents, which were beyond the affordability of many renters prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, cannot be allowed to increase further when the future is so uncertain for so many.

  

“Therefore, it is necessary to extend the moratoriums on evictions and rent increases until a level of stability has been achieved in the face of the pandemic. Over and above this, Threshold is calling on the incoming government to revise the manner in which a tenant can be evicted from their home, to create a more stable and secure private rented sector. It will be necessary to bring in a suite of measures to assist tenants to clear rent arrears that have accrued in this time, as well as to revise the manner in which a tenant can be evicted for rent arrears.”