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19th Dec 2016

Central Bank Figures Show The Homeless Crisis Is Continuing To Deepen

Alison Bough

As the Home Sweet Home group continue to occupy Apollo House, a disused Dublin office building currently accommodating 31 homeless people, figures released by the Central Bank show that the housing and homeless crisis is continuing to deepen.

The figures show that more than four family homes are being repossessed every day. By the end of September 421 homeowners had either volunteered or were forced to hand over the keys to their properties. Meanwhile, over 280 houses or apartments owned by landlords were repossessed by banks or financial institutions.

Homeless charity Focus Ireland said that the new figures also clearly report the growing crisis facing tenants in buy-to-let properties and called for the government to take urgent action now to help these vulnerable households. The leading charity said the government must move to accept proposals to increase the rights of tenants in 132,000 buy-to-let properties when this matter is voted on in Dáil Éireann. According to the report for Quarter 3 2016, there are 14,518 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears by more than 720 days, accounting for 11% of all buy-to-let mortgages.

Director of advocacy Mike Allen said:

“The overall picture emerging is of further deterioration of the situation in the buy-to-let market with thousands of tenants at risk of losing their home, not through any fault of their own but because their landlord is unable to pay their mortgage.”

The group have said that up to 40 children in 20 families are being forced into homelessness every month by banks and financial institutions through evictions from buy-to-let homes.

Last week in the Dáil it was discussed how to increase the protection for tenants in the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016.  The Bill has now been referred to committee.  The Government’s ‘Tyrrelstown Amendment’ in relation to this Bill initially proposes to ensure that landlords with 20 or more properties cannot evict their tenants in one go. However, most of the evictions from buy-to-let tenancies are by landlords with one or two properties.

Focus Ireland is currently running a campaign calling for action to stop families renting from ‘buy-to-let’ landlords being evicted if the landlord is forced to sell the property. An incredible 40,000 e-mails have now been sent to TDs and Senators in the weeks of the campaign calling for action. Mr Allen commented:

“It is vital we always remember that behind every one of these evictions that we are talking about men, women and children who are being forced out of their home – through no fault of their own – and becoming homeless. This is wrong and totally unacceptable. While much good work is being done to prevent people from becoming homeless the growing number of buy-to-let homes being either repossessed or sold is causing a constant rise in the numbers being forced into homelessness.”

Watch Glen Hansard speak movingly about his group’s act of ‘civil disobedience’ –

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