Last week, the Dáil debated the Residential Tenancies (Amendment No.3) (Extension of Notices) Bill 2021, otherwise known as the Simon Bill
The Bill provides for the automatic extension of notice periods with respect to residential tenancies where a tenant is certified as at risk of homelessness and for that purpose to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004
The Bill and supporting documents, including an explanatory memorandum, can be found at the following link: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2021/159/
The full debate can be viewed here: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2021-12-14/21/
Transcript of Francis' contribution:
I would also like to begin by thanking the Simon Community and in particular Wayne Stanley, for unifying many parties on a critical issue and a very reasonable proposal - one which I hope the government will seriously consider progressing and supporting. The Bill - as mentioned by my colleagues in Opposition - aims to very simply identify people at risk of homelessness, and to provide the support and services needed to prevent the household, whether it be a family with children or a single person, from entering homelessness by way of a 12-week extension.
As we know according to a recent Threshold Report, tenancy termination has become the number one issue for tenants in the private rental sector, and a stark figure shows that almost half of terminations brought to Threshold in 2020 were ultimately found to be invalid; this included invalid notices of termination, illegal evictions and threatened evictions. The solution here is tenancy security, strengthened enforcement, and public awareness to ensure that tenants and landlords are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities.
I would like to correct the Dáil record for Deputy Tóibín. Green Party policies, whether agreed in the Programme for Government or since last year by my team & I, are the following: cost rental en masse, 2,000 units a year and that's just the start in my opinion, tenancies of indefinite duration, 100% public housing on public land, co-living and SHDs abolished, a right to housing referendum, Town Centre First policy to revitalise our towns. 30,000 units commenced in the first 10 months of this year. Retrofitting social homes, and I would like to add that Green Party policy of heat conservation which is Part L of the Building Regulations has brought more people out of fuel poverty than any other policy in the history of the State.
Despite what the opposition might critique, I’m sure they can join me in agreeing that cost-rental and tenancies of indefinite duration will not only assist in dealing with the immediate crisis but also provide long-term security and affordability to tenants, both of which have been a missing key in Irish housing policy.
However, I do believe the Bill could be strengthened and the government could go further by ensuring that intervention is provided from the very start once a notice to quit is served. This ensures households don’t reach crisis point and will prevent heightened levels of anxiety and distress, and it will also give Local Authorities and organisations plenty of time to provide their services. I did submit this proposal as an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Bill which disappointingly did not get accepted perhaps due to time constraints - but I hope to revisit the proposal perhaps in Committee with my colleagues.
Therefore to conclude, I’d like to again extend my support for this Bill and commend the Simon Community not only for their legislative work but also for the front-line services that have seen thousands of households saved from homelessness, and also for their constant willingness to provide advice to myself and other legislators,