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Coronavirus: Landlords warned to aid tenants or State will intervene

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Warning: Fianna Fáil spokesperson on finance, Michael McGrath. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Warning: Fianna Fáil spokesperson on finance, Michael McGrath. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Warning: Fianna Fáil spokesperson on finance, Michael McGrath. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Landlords are being told they must show leniency to tenants who cannot pay rent due to the coronavirus or the Government will intervene.

Speaking ahead of government formation talks, Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said evictions during the pandemic will not be accepted.

Mr McGrath also called on banks to freeze mortgage payments for those who cannot make their monthly payments during the pandemic.

"We don't want anyone losing their home during this crisis," he said. "If word gets out of attempts to evict people on the back of Covid-19 then there will have to be a response to that," he added.

Mr McGrath insisted there can be "no move whatsoever" against any tenant who is struggling to make rental payments due to loss of earnings arising from the virus.

He also said banks should offer mortgage holders a freeze on payments "without question" if their income has been affected by the outbreak of the disease.

The senior Fianna Fáil negotiator was speaking as concerns grow over how hundreds of thousands of workers who are expected to lose their jobs will pay their rents and mortgages. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is to hold talks with the banks today to find a solution for mortgage holders.

However, it is unclear what measures are being examined to protect renters who may have lost their jobs due to the closure of thousands of shops, restaurants and pubs.

Department of Finance officials are examining how to address the financial struggles facing all sectors of society in the aftermath of the unprecedented health crisis.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will hold their first of three days of talks on government formation today and the impact of the coronavirus on the economy is a key item on the agenda.

Mr McGrath said the impact of the crisis on businesses, mortgage holders and renters is going to be "immense" and it will require "significant Exchequer spending" to address.

"We need an ambitious economic recovery plan because it is not simply going to be a case of pressing the switch and everything going back to normal when this is over," he said.

Retail Excellence Ireland warned 200,000 people could be out of work before the end of the week as businesses across the country close their doors to tackle the virus.

This is on top of around 140,000 people who have lost their jobs following requests from the Government to limit social interactions.

Yesterday, senior Government figures said they did not know when businesses will be able to operate as normal again and said they expect the measures currently in place until March 29 to be extended.

Separately, Mr Donohoe said life as we know it may have changed forever but insisted he believed the country can bounce back.

"The 'normal' that we all knew a number of weeks ago before the onslaught of Covid-19, that is a normal we will not be returning back to if ever in terms of how we will be dealing with each other and the shape of our economy," he said, adding the country does have the ability to recover.

Irish Independent


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