“Tenants Are Completely Unaware But They’re At Huge Risk Of Being Evicted”

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Independent TD Seamus Healy speaking about the Focus Ireland amendment during a debate on Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016 last December

You’ll recall the Tyrrelstown amendment.

And how it was added to the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016 before Christmas.

It had originally proposed that where a landlord proposes to sell 20 or more units in a development – within six months – the sales would be conditional on existing tenants being able to remain in the property unless there were exceptional circumstances.

During a Seanad debate on this amendment, the number was changed from 20 to five.

However, on foot of advice from the Attorney General, the Minister for Housing Simon Coveney  increased this figure, from five to 10.

Mr Coveney explained to the Dáil, on December 16, 2016:

“Amendment No. 92 is known as the Tyrrelstown amendment. It provides for the increase in the number of dwellings to which section 35 applies from five to ten. The original figure was 20 dwellings and this was amended to five on Report Stage in the Seanad.”

“The purpose of the Tyrrelstown amendment was to indicate to institutional investors buying large-scale developments that when these properties are sold, the existing tenancies in those properties will be protected.”

The figure of 20 units was chosen because anything above it represented a medium-sized development. I want to ensure that when medium-sized and large-scale developments are bought and sold, tenants will be protected through the process in order that we will not have a repeat of what happened in Tyrrelstown.”

“By and large, these developments are managed by professionally-managed funds, professional landlords and so-called vulture funds. In drafting the Tyrrelstown amendment, the Department was aware that restricting the use of the ground of sale to terminate a tenancy could be regarded as an interference with constitutionally-protected property rights. The number of dwellings was chosen to ensure that this interference was both proportionate and justified. I am told this is a requirement if we seek to proceed in this way.”

Let us suppose a landlord has one property with a tenant and he is looking to sell that property. The rights of the landlord in terms of ownership and sale, and the potential reduction in value if he were to sell it with a tenant in it, interferes with a person’s property rights.”

Let us suppose a landlord is an owner of 40 properties each with tenants. It is surely both proportionate and justified that the rights of those 40 would override the property rights of an individual in the Constitution. That is why when we have multiple numbers; it is both proportionate and justified to do what we are doing. However, if it is a question of the right of one person as a tenant versus the constitutional property rights of the owner as a landlord then there is an issue. This is what I have been told.”

“I have much sympathy for the spirit of what we are trying to do. I introduced the so-called Tyrrelstown amendment early. I did so not when the Bill was progressing but during the summer, because I took the view that it was the right thing to do. However, I cannot ignore legal advice either. I have taken legal advice from the Attorney General on this issue. While I am not seeking to return the number of dwellings to which the amendment applies to 20, I believe that, having taken the advice, ten is the appropriate number.”

“To be clear, I sought legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General after Report Stage in the Seanad because we were concerned about the matter at the time. In fact, I raised it with colleagues. While the number of units was reduced from 20 to five, the Attorney General advised that ten was the more appropriate number.”

Meanwhile…

Also before Christmas.

Focus Ireland proposed an amendment to the Planning and Development Bill 2016 to protect all tenants of buy-to-let properties from being evicted or served termination notices, on the basis that their landlords were selling the property.

The amendment was moved by Tipperary Independent TD Seamus Healy (above).

However, it was lost with 43 votes for; 52 votes against and 25 abstentions.

Here’s how they voted.

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Further to this…

Independent TD Stephen Donnelly and director of advocacy Focus Ireland Mike Allen spoke to Seán O’Rourke on Today with Seán O’Rourke this morning.

They spoke about the Tyrrelstown amendment and the rejected Focus Ireland amendment.

From the discussion…

Stephen Donnelly: “…The Tyrrelstown amendment will help but there’s an awful lot more that needs to happen.”

Seán O’Rourke: “Remind us as well, of the numbers, there has be a certain threshold, above which there are numbers of apartments of being sold because if it’s down to ones or twos, it doesn’t apply, isn’t that right?”

Donnelly: “That’s right, yeah. I can’t remember exactly what the number is. I know it was brought down. There was very good advocacy from some of the senators, I think Mary Alice Higgins and some others were involved in trying to push the number down with Simon Coveney and I think they succeeded. But, I’m sorry, I don’t have the number off the top of my head.”

O’Rourke: “If I could turn to you, Mike Allen, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland, are you seeing now the early days of 2017, an increased demand or calling on your own services?”

Mike Allen: “Good morning, Sean. What we’ve been seeing over the last year is, we reckon around a third of families who are becoming homeless in Dublin are becoming homeless because their landlord has been forced to sell up, one way or another. And it’s very hard to know exactly what’s happening there. But, talking to the families in our services and elsewhere, there’s a strong sense that landlords, these particular landlords are being forced to sell up, either by banks or by vulture funds because they, themselves, have got behind in their mortgages. And the Tyrrelstown amendment, while it’s very positive for the places that it effects – Tyrrelstown in particular, in retrospect. You know, they’re trying to address that issue retrospectively. It doesn’t deal with the vast majority of landlords.

Over 95% of Irish tenants have landlords with only one or two properties and that’s where, on a day-to-day basis, people are being forced into homelessness and an amendment which would have extended this sort of protection to all buy-to-let tenants was rejected by the Government and Fianna Fáil, and for the life of me, I don’t know why it was rejected. There might be some good reason but nobody bothered to come out and explain why they couldn’t extend that protection.”

There’s over 15,000 tenancies where the landlord is in arrears for more than two years and, not all of those by any means, but a significant number of those tenants are completely unaware themselves but they’re at huge risk of being evicted and ending up in homeless services and we don’t seem to be doing anything seriously or urgently about that.

Later

O’Rourke: “Stephen Donnelly, just to answer that question or maybe you might like to offer an insight that Mike Allen raised about why the Tyrrelstown amendment, protecting people’s tenancies, doesn’t apply in the case of, you know, a single or maybe one or two-property landlord.

Donnelly:I don’t know, it makes absolutely no sense. I mean it’s a very simple thing to do, to say, if you have a tenancy and the property you’re in is being sold through forced repossession, or whatever it is, that you’re protected. The tenancy, tenants, are protected. Every tenant in this country knows the legal protections available just aren’t good enough.”

Listen back in full here

Dáil transcript via kildarestreet.com and vote via oireachtas.ie

Previously: ‘We Will Fix This’

62 thoughts on ““Tenants Are Completely Unaware But They’re At Huge Risk Of Being Evicted”

    1. Vote Rep #1

      Don’t see quite a few TDs in the breakdown.

      If you don’t bother turning up, are you put down as an abstention or do you have to say you are absenting?

      Where is Michael Martin or Michael McGrath?

  1. Owen C

    “Focus Ireland proposed an amendment to the Planning and Development Bill 2016 to protect all tenants of buy-to-let properties from being evicted or served termination notices, on the basis that their landlords were selling the property.”

    “…an amendment which would have extended this sort of protection to all buy-to-let tenants was rejected by the Government and Fianna Fáil, and for the life of me, I don’t know why it was rejected. There might be some good reason but nobody bothered to come out and explain why they couldn’t extend that protection.”

    I think the issue is that in practical terms, protecting all tenants would lead to a situation where people seeking to purchase residential property to live in themselves (ie owner occupier) would be effectively unable to purchase anything which is currently in the BTL sector. It would leave all BTL property only available to professional landlords. Which would seem to be a stupid outcome if it were to have occurred.

    1. Anne

      Why would it be a stupid outcome? The stupid outcome would be people being forced out onto the streets because a landlord wants to sell up.

    2. Fact Checker

      You would be able buy but with tenants in situ and then you would have to terminate their tenancy yourself.

      This would be fine in 90% of cases I am sure. But buyers would need substantial discounts to insure against the possibility of an uncooperative tenant.

      The famous ‘Market for Lemons’ problem might also apply: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons)

      1. Owen C

        Most solicitors would advise their client not to go ahead with this (I know as this issue featured when I was selling my own house which I had become an accidental landlord of), as there is no telling what sort of issues may arise whilst trying to get the existing tenant out. Its a completely pragmatic threshold that they have left in the legislation.

      2. Anne

        You would be able buy but with tenants in situ and then you would have to terminate their tenancy yourself.

        How inconvenient.

        Let’s be clear here, the only reason the likes of the people in Tyrrelstown or down in the Strand apartments in Limerick are being forced out, is because these peoples’ homes are going to be rented out again by the new investor, but at higher prices.

        You could find yourself googling somewhere to live again from your sh*tty run down B & B, and there you see your old apartment being advertised for 500 more a month.

        The number of 5 being sold together was appropriate to protect tenants, not 10. And I would hope there’s some provision to stop vultures or whoever selling in smaller batches, but at the same time.

        1. Cian

          it’s the number of units sold within 6 months. So if you sold 1 a week for 5 months it would kick in.
          I’m not sure how it would be enforced retrospectively. If I sell 9 properties, and kick out the tenants before buying, does this stop me selling further properties in the 6 months?

          1. Anne

            I’d have no problem with anyone selling as many properties as they like, as often as they like, if tenants were protected. Proper security of tenure and rent controls don’t have to impinge on sale of properties.

    1. Cian

      it’s BTL if the person buying it is doing so with the intent to rent – as apposed to buying it to live there.

  2. Fact Checker

    Mike Allen: “Good morning, Sean. What we’ve been seeing over the last year is, we reckon around a third of families who are becoming homeless in Dublin are becoming homeless because their landlord has been forced to sell up, one way or another. And it’s very hard to know exactly what’s happening there. But, talking to the families in our services and elsewhere, there’s a strong sense that landlords, these particular landlords are being forced to sell up, either by banks or by vulture funds because they, themselves, have got behind in their mortgages.

    So what happens when a BTL dwelling is sold because of arrears?

    Does it just disappear into a black hole?

    No. The new owner will either live in it or let it to someone else.

    Arrangements for terminating tenancies have ZERO NET IMPACT on the number of houses in Ireland.

    The real issue is the very slow pace of new house building which no one really has a policy prescription for.

    1. Anne

      Arrangements for terminating tenancies have ZERO NET IMPACT on the number of houses in Ireland.

      Likewise, arrangements to protect existing tenants, have zero net impact on the number of houses in Ireland.

      1. Cian

        Anne, that is true, but it interferes with the landlord’s Constitutional rights. As Coveney explained to the Dail “Let us suppose a landlord has one property with a tenant and he is looking to sell that property. The rights of the landlord in terms of ownership and sale, and the potential reduction in value if he were to sell it with a tenant in it, interferes with a person’s property rights.”

        1. Anne

          Potential reduction in value huh?

          Who’s rights are considered more important? The rights of a landlord to maximum profits or the rights of ordinary citizens to not be turfed out onto the streets.

          There are hundreds of thousands of people now renting. Landlords are lobbying for more and more tax breaks. I saw a headline recently that they are going to be able to deduct local property tax now as an expense.

          Here’s what they’re already allowed deduct –
          https://www.taxback.com/blog/irish-landlord-expenses
          there’s a whole plethora of expenses Revenue will allow you to claim back on to reduce the amount of tax you pay each year.

          You can’t have it all ways. We need to protect the thousands of people now renting.. they’re voters after all.

          1. Cian

            Anne: “Who’s rights are considered more important?”
            According to Coveney – if there is a landlord selling one property (which affects one* tenant) the landlord’s rights are considered more important than the tenant’s. If there is a landlord selling ten properties (which affects ten* tenants) the tenants’ rights are considered more important than the landlord’s.

            * I’m aware there can be more than one tenant, but that’s the gist of it.

        2. ahjayzis

          No it doesn’t.

          The State acknowledges that man, in virtue of his rational being, has the natural right, antecedent to positive law, to the private ownership of external goods.

          The State accordingly guarantees to pass no law attempting to abolish the right of private ownership or the general right to transfer, bequeath, and inherit property.

          The State recognises, however, that the exercise of the rights mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this Article ought, in civil society, to be regulated by the principles of social justice.

          Everyone seems to treat the third of three paragraphs like it’s a typo. It’s completely ignored. The constitution doesn’t grant unrestricted property rights – governments do.

          1. ahjayzis

            And ‘social justice’ would tend to suggest that no one should be made homeless for the sake of a few extra grand on a sale price for the landlord or his/her creditor.

          2. ahjayzis

            It doesn’t mean you have to tack on an arbitrary restriction.

            Is it socially just that a landlord adding 5% to his sale price trumps a contract he signed with the tenants – who he is now prematurely evicting for enhanced profit – into the middle of the worst housing and homelessness crisis we’ve seen?

            Whether it’s one family, 5 families or 20 families – is it socially just?

          3. Owen C

            “Is it socially just that a landlord adding 5% to his sale price trumps a contract he signed with the tenants”

            I think the sales clause is included in the contract, no?

  3. Anne

    I recall someone on here recently saying their landlord owned numerous properties in the same area and that he advised all of his tenants in the different houses that his sister was moving in. He didn’t have 8 sisters, it was just the one sister with the same ugly mutt head on her.

    Just on this and selling up –

    A signed statutory declaration from the landlord, is required both for stating that a family member is moving in, and if he’s saying he’s selling up.

    http://www.threshold.ie/advice/ending-a-tenancy/how-your-landlord-may-end-your-tenancy/

    -Selling

    The landlord can end your tenancy if they intend to sell within 3 months. They must provide a signed statutory declaration that this is the case.

    -Property needed for landlord/family member

    The landlord must provide a signed statutory declaration that they require the property back for their own or a family members use.

        1. Taanbuaagam

          Any affiliation to rational thought?
          He’s the worst sort of solipsistic establishment shill

    1. Anne

      A signed statutory declaration also, can only be done by

      Pursuant to the Statutory Declarations Act 1938 a statutory declaration made in the State is required to be made before either:

      A notary public
      A commissioner for oaths
      A peace commissioner
      A practicing solicitor (section 72 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994)

      link – http://www.formacompany.ie/en/apostille/statutory-declaration.php

      Some chancer saying his sister is moving into 8 different properties or 4 or whatever the number was, needs the fear of god put into him and advised pronto that what he’s doing is illegal and further action may be taken etc etc.

  4. Anomanomanom

    So if I want to sell 15 properties I could get around that very easily. Weeks beforehand you just set up different companies and sell them off. There is slightly more to it but it is that easy.

  5. DubLoony

    I wonder if some of this is due to returning emigrants who had let their houses out while they were away?
    And now they want their house back to live in it?

    1. Cian

      no, this is relating to selling houses. if you let your house while you were away, and want to live there you can evict your tenant (with due notice).
      This is more to do with a landlord selling a property to another person who will also let the property. The question is why the tenant is affected.

    2. Anne

      If I went off abroad, I would think it’s only fair that I find myself someplace else to live upon my return, if there are people already living in a house I have been renting to them for years.

      It’s all to suit landlords. It’s ridiculous.

      1. rotide

        Sorry what?

        If I decide to move somewhere for 5 years and rent the house while I’m gone, I’m completely within my moral rights to reclaim my property when I return (obviously with reasonable notice). To assert otherwise is being ridiculous.

        1. Anne

          “no you wouldn’t” lol
          Ok psychic sally.

          Unlike ye shower of heartless neoliberal rentboys, I happen to think where people live is something that’s very important to them.

          But not to confuse the issue, we’re talking landlords with more than 1 property in the country. Not emigrants with 1 property returning home.

          Coveney happens to think the hundreds of thousands in rental accommodation whose landlord owns 10 or less properties are not worthy of protection from being forced out onto the streets, as it doesn’t make headlines when it’s not happening in any big numbers at the same time.

          1. rotide

            Make up your mind, you were the one that brought up the stupid assertion that a single landlord returning from abroad had no right to their own property.

          2. Anne

            Make up my mind about what?
            Listen up Rotsey, these are my views on the matter. We’re talking about landlords with buy to let properties. It would be easy enough to ascertain if someone owns more than one property.

            I think tenancy rights are very important. It’s the roofs over peoples’ heads we’re talking about. I do not think a priority should be given to landlord’s potential reduction in value, upon the sale of a property, over that of making someone homeless.

            Coveney says it’s proportionate and justified that the rights of 40 tenants in 40 properties should override the property rights of an individual landlord. Well guess what, overall there are far more people renting than there are landlords.

            Just because it won’t make headlines when done to thousands of renters but not in big batches at a time, doesnt mean it’s fair.

            We have a party of and for landlords. They want it all ways. They want to gouge and change tenants what they like, they want to pay no taxes on the income. They want tenants to contribute to their pension fund in full..and they want to be able to turf them out when it suits as it may reduce the value of their ‘asset’ (a place someone has made their home).

          3. Taanbuaagam

            Rotide is a hateful persona on this site. Several countries including India do not allow non residents own property in their country. Emigrants should make up their mind where they want to live to use your hateful analogy.

          4. rotide

            If I went off abroad, I would think it’s only fair that I find myself someplace else to live upon my return, if there are people already living in a house I have been renting to them for years.

            Your words Anne. That doesn’t sound like a BTL landlord.

          5. Anne

            Dublooney brought it up Rotsey and I feel like tenancy rights are very important no matter what the situation. As things stand it’s pretty dismal for tenants.

            A party of and for landlords is what we have.

  6. Anne

    “Let us suppose a landlord is an owner of 40 properties each with tenants. It is surely both proportionate and justified that the rights of those 40 would override the property rights of an individual in the Constitution.

    While I am not seeking to return the number of dwellings to which the amendment applies to 20, I believe that, having taken the advice, ten is the appropriate number.”

    Just on that, if we’re deciding whose rights have a higher priority based on numbers. We have more renters than landlords. Hundreds of thousands of people are not worthy of protection who are renting from landlords who own 10 or less properties. How is that appropriate?

    You have to love the appeal to authority too given to the Attorney General. We went with 20 properties, then 5, then the Attorney general said 10, as that arbitrary number is what the Attorney general said. Wonderful.

    1. Taanbuaagam

      The judicial system here is a complete racket. It’s literally repulsive. Spend a day around the High court in Dublin or any district court and you will get an insight

      1. Rob_G

        In what way?

        From what I read in the media, judges almost never evict families from homes when they are making some effort to engage with the lender.

        1. Taanbuaagam

          I just mean in the general sense of how it all works Robs all about power, privilege and who you know

          1. Taanbuaagam

            Just go down to the courts any day of the week it’s hard to explain unless you experience it first hand. There’s a standing army of parasite monkey lawyers and guards grinding an organ chewing up people and spitting them out – lads with hundreds of convictions being “processed” like condoms out of a vending machine. That’s just the district courts. The high courts are way way worse. Like if you go in there as a lay litigant and don’t stand or speak at the right time or sit in the correct seat some silly little sycophant will berate you for it, as if the whole process wasn’t intimidating enough.

            As for examples look them up yourself your lordship there were several given here recently for example the Gibney Denham issue.

  7. Frilly Keane

    Those FFerz
    Are effez

    What are they up to really

    McGrath and Meehal are in the same constituency as Coveney…..

    With an up and coming Shinner

    Are they just acting the bollox and planning sum’ting that’ll stitch that Snobby Langer up?

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