By Jonathan Diebold
The government this week has made the shameful and disgusting decision to lift the ban on evictions. It does this knowing that it is condemning numerous people – including families with children – to homelessness. Already, notices to quit have flooded through letterboxes up and down the country. Services are already flooded, and a sudden, massive increase threatens to overwhelm them.
Unsurprisingly, when faced with a choice of defending the interests of tenants or landlords, the government chose the latter. The day after this announcement it was revealed that Leo Varadkar owned a rented property in Dublin 15. This is a government of landlords looking out for landlords.
The government has claimed that the eviction ban hasn’t reduced homelessness. Of course, it hasn’t! The way to decrease homelessness is to house people. A ban on evictions only stops those numbers from increasing. Had there been no ban, we certainly would have seen the numbers – currently at record levels (11,754 in emergency accommodation in January) – grow far faster.
It has also claimed that this ban will drive landlords from the market. However, landlords are leaving the market regardless, given that many will make more money by selling their properties than gain in rent. This only points towards the need to move away from the reliance on the private sector, where housing is based on profiteering, and implement a major campaign of constructing social and affordable housing.
Make the ban permanent
The government has claimed that the ban may be open to legal challenges. So instead of risking the mere possibility of it being overturned in the courts months from now, they make the ridiculous decision to overturn it immediately, denying people the safety that even a few more months would offer.
Socialist Party TD Mick Barry challenged Leo Varadkar during the Dáil’s ‘Taoiseach’s Questions’ on whether the government had done any research into what impact this decision would have. Varadkar ignored the question. He was asked again and refused to answer once more. Because he knows, as everyone inside or outside the government knows, just how disastrous its decision will be.
No one should be evicted into homelessness, the eviction ban should be made permanent. If anyone is faced with an eviction notice they should refuse to leave their home, as Mick Barry correctly pointed out: “it is better to break the law, than break the poor”. Working-class communities need to get organised to ensure no one is alone when fighting these evictions – united they can be beaten.