On the day when activists from the Home Sweet Home campaign are due to meet Minister Coveney the Anti-Austerity Alliance has called on the government to take radical measures to stop people becoming homeless.

The Anti-Austerity Alliance has said that the AAA-PBP Anti-Evictions Bill, which will be debated on January 17th, represents the type of measures which are needed and will represent a challenge to the government’s commitment to end the deluge of people falling into homelessness.

They said that evictions increase sharply each January as landlords move tenants out after Christmas and that the debate on the Bill can expose the government’s empty promises on homelessness.

The Bill will ban what Threshold have termed ‘dubious evictions’ – landlords claiming to be selling a property to evict tenants, only to move new tenants in on higher rent. It will mean that sales of properties are conducted with tenants remaining in place. It will provide for compensation for tenants who are forced to leave because a landlord needs a property for a family member, as is the case in other European countries.

The Bill will also provide for greater security of tenure for tenants.

Ruth Coppinger TD said “The government, in particular Fine Gael, have taken offense at being labelled ‘a landlords party’ after their rental strategy was launched just before Christmas. It gives them free reign to hike rents by over 12% in 3 years while containing little or nothing for tenants.

“The AAA-PBP Bill will be another test for them to show in whose interests they govern – either with tenants or the landlord class. Their record over 6 years has been to refuse to recognise that there is a homeless emergency and take necessary measures like real rent controls.

“This Bill will stop one of the major causes of homelessness – Landlords using sale of property as a guise to evict the tenant and hike up rent, what Threshold have termed ‘dubious evictions’;  or banks and vulture funds cashing in on higher house prices to sell properties and evicting tenants in the process.

“It will mean that if properties are being sold by landlords, or banks or receivers, they are done with the tenants in situ. 31% of homeless cases in Dublin West, a homeless blackspot, are related to the sale of a property according to a survey we conducted. Similar legislation exists in many EU countries already.

“This Bill and the measures in it is the only guaranteed way of keeping the Tyrrelstown residents and others in the same situation in their homes.”

Mick Barry TD for Cork North Central said “The timing of this Bill will really put it up to the government on their commitment to stem the tide of homelessness.

“January is the month of the year when evictions by landlords spike. They hold off on evictions before Christmas only to evict families in the New Year. Last January for instance, 109 families or over 500 extra people were made homeless compared to the preceding month.

“Families will be getting evicted as this Bill is being debated. The measures in the Bill would give families greater security of tenure against evictions by landlords, banks or vulture funds.

“The huge public support for the Home Sweet Home campaign and the measures they took in opening Apollo House is a sign that people want immediate radical measures taken to solve the crisis.  If the government are serious they will not only pass this Bill but fast-track it through Committee stages.”

Paul Murphy TD said “The Anti-Evictions Bill will ask the government to either defend the property rights of the landlord class or to give tenants more rights. It is because Fine Gael has put the interests of landlords first that many people are homeless.

“They spent 6 years claiming that they could not interfere in the market, only to do so with their rental strategy, claiming that landlords would leave but the facts tell a different story.

“Last year alone, 4,283 new landlords joined the market. There were 323,602 tenancies compared with 237,403 in 2011. Rents have skyrocketed – an estimated €2 billion in pure profit was made by landlords last year. The housing crisis is hugely profitable for them, why would they leave the market? This Bill is an important step in giving more rights to tenants.”