I am delighted to briefly support Solidarity-PBP’s Bill. On 18 January last year, a similar Bill was almost passed by the House, when sadly and unfortunately, the Fianna Fáil Party abstained from the vote which was tied 51:51. I warmly commend Solidarity-PBP for updating and reintroducing this vitally important Bill. I note that student-specific accommodation is mentioned along with several other changes.
This Bill will provide much greater security of tenure. It will significantly extend notice periods and force landlords to pay compensation to tenants who have been evicted because family members have moved back into the accommodation and other improvements. The out of control property and rental sector has been the major contributory factor in our homelessness crisis, along with the total inaction of Government. It is laughable to hear people talking about introducing Bills when they were in government for many long years and had opportunity after opportunity to bring in this type of Bill and failed to do so.
All the important agencies in the housing area working on the ground with individuals and families confirm that a stream of people, week in week out, are entering homelessness because of eviction notices, increased and unaffordable rents, and excuses about selling or refurbishing property just for it to be re-advertised at a higher rent leading to renovictions. That is the nub of the situation in my experience every week meeting families and individuals in homelessness or facing homelessness.
I welcome many sections of the Bill, particularly section 5, which provides for the abolition of the sale of property as grounds for terminating rental of a property by amending sections 34 and 35 of the 2004 Act. Section 6 is also important regarding the termination of a tenancy on the grounds of needing the dwelling for occupation by the landlord or a member of the family and section 7 abolishes refurbishment or renovation as grounds for terminating a tenancy. The extension of the notice periods to a year for people with a tenancy of five years or more is crucial and valuable and should be approved by the House
We are a few days from Christmas and almost 4,000 of our children are still in desperate, homeless accommodation, in family hubs or hotels or they are the hidden homeless in grossly overcrowded households. The Minister of State, Deputy English and the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, and the Taoiseach are totally responsible for that.
I note that the excellent Mick Caul and the #mynameis campaign will bring their hashtag-Twitter tree to the Dáil on 19 December. We will be able to read the tweets regarding what the public thinks of child homelessness this Christmas. They are infuriated by it. That is why they would have liked a general election in the next couple of weeks. Today Fianna Fáil has decided again to prop up this Government which has been so incompetent in the housing and health areas, and which has failed to achieve anything. Under the curtain of Brexit fears, Fianna Fáil is prepared to prop up the Government—–
Is Brexit not real?
—–to carry on with the failures in which it is deeply involved with Fine Gael on housing.
The Deputy is afraid of an election.
The party is going on with it and not serving this country. We need to give people a chance to make a decision about the housing and rental policies of this Government, a large component of which is comprised of landlords. We need to give people a chance to vote on that as soon as possible but I commend this Bill to the House.