Gardaí should have the power to stop landlords illegally evicting their tenants, Sinn Féin have said.
Presently, an illegal eviction is a civil matter and An Garda Síochána's position is the force should not "engage in any such tenancy disputes unless a Criminal Offence is alleged or disclosed."
The Residential Tenancies Board have suggested Gardaí should be given the power to intervene and Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said it is a sensible recommendation.
“There is no immediate effective remedy,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“[Renters] can seek an injunction in the Circuit Court but, of course, if illegal evictions happen in the evening or on the weekend or in parts of rural Ireland [then it’s very ineffective].”
Deputy Ó Broin said a family in his constituency was made homeless only last week because of an illegal eviction and Gardaí have told him they feel powerless in such situations.
“Even where a tenant is being physically removed from a property, it’s a very, very grey area,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to some Guards who’ve attended illegal evictions and they themselves are very conflicted because the law is not helping clarify the situation.
“So, this is one of a number of very sensible recommendations from the Residential Tenancies Board.”
In a statement to Newstalk, the Irish Property Owners' Association said the recommendations as a whole are “well meaning” but would constitute a “disproportionate response that will unduly deter landlords from meaningfully participating in the property market”.
Deputy Ó Broin said the IPOA were doing themselves “no favours” and that illegal evictions were “traumatic” for those affected by them.
“The idea that you would say, ‘Yes, illegal evictions are wrong but the Guards shouldn’t have any power to stop them’ - I think is bizarre,” he said.
“The overwhelming majority of landlords out there would never even consider engaging in an illegal eviction and, therefore, it won’t have any impact on these recommendations on the overwhelming majority of law-abiding landlords or new investors into the market.”
Homelessness in Ireland is currently at record levels with 11,988 people accessing emergency housing in March.
Main image: Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin.