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Charity seeks extension to eviction moratorium over surge in rent arrears

    

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Concerned: Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty. Picture: Arthur Carron

Concerned: Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty. Picture: Arthur Carron

Concerned: Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty. Picture: Arthur Carron

The national housing charity, Threshold, has called for an extension of the moratorium on evictions and rent increases as they report a rise in tenants struggling to pay their rent.

The charity said it had been notified of a spike in cases of tenants who had gone into arrears as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to cause instability in the rental market.

The moratorium on evictions and rent increases is due to expire on June 27, but Threshold said the expiration date should be extended.

Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty said: "In the first few weeks of the Covid-19 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.

"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 while 69pc of callers have lost their income as a result of Covid-19 public health measures."

Mr McCafferty said an extension 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," he said.

"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."

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

Anxious

"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 carried out 46,757 actions, including 5,954 related to Covid-19, to date this year, across 6,787 cases.

The number of actions, it says, reflects the increasing complexity of cases presenting to Threshold.

Irish Independent