There were bitter exchanges in the Dáil as the impact of the Government decision not to extend the evictions ban was debated.
Sinn Féin said this had caused enormous anxiety for renters and it accused the Government of "showing up" for wealthy investment funds but not for tenants.
Renters have no options and many will now have to emigrate to escape this nightmare, Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil.
The party is seeking a Dáil vote on the decision at the earliest opportunity with Ms McDonald saying "the stakes are so high".
The Taoiseach accused Sinn Féin of creating a false narrative and he said it was not a case of pitting landlords against tenants.
Leo Varadkar informed the house that more than 40,000 landlords had left the market in recent years and very few new ones had come in and that was why rents were high.
He said Government would build more social housing and would endeavour to get 12,000 constructed this year.
More rental properties will be bought up by local authorities and there would be a further package in the budget for renters and landlords, he said.
During heated exchanges in the Dáil chamber, Sinn Féin said the decision to not extend the eviction ban caused enormous anxiety for renters, accusing the Government of " showing up" for wealthy investment funds but not for tenants | Read more: https://t.co/8w10lDs1Hv pic.twitter.com/qIDWRj6VcK— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 8, 2023
As the Taoiseach spoke the Sinn Féin Leader could be heard saying "Jesus, Mary and Joseph."
The Taoiseach felt he was being shouted down to which Ms McDonald answered "no one is shouting you down Leo, relax".
He then accused Sinn Féin of being unable to handle honest democratic debate.
Labour Leader Ivana Bacik described the exchanges between Government and Sinn Féin as unedifying.
She told the Dáil that some of her constituents do not know where they will be living in a few weeks time and she called for a reinstatement of the evictions ban.
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Meanwhile, Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney defended the Government's decision not to extend the ban on evictions.
Mr Coveney said it was not a decision the government made lightly and that it was "trying to make a decision for the greater good".
He said they know that some families are under pressure and that government needs to do more to deliver more social homes, but he said they also have to "try to create a functioning rental market where more landlords are coming into the market than are leaving so that we can provide affordable rental accommodation for people who need that".
Minister Coveney said that 21,000 landlords left the market last year and that extending the ban would have resulted in more landlords leaving, putting more pressure on those looking for a rental property.
Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien warned his Cabinet colleagues yesterday about his "deep concern" with extending the no-fault eviction ban, saying it would be regarded as a "serious breach of trust" by landlords.
The Government confirmed yesterday that the ban on evictions will not be extended beyond the end of this month due to concerns that an extension would damage the supply of rental properties in the long term.
The Taoiseach told the Dáil that the ongoing exodus of landlords from the rental market, and the absence of new landlords, was a key driver for the Coalition to discontinue the ban.
At Cabinet, a memo brought by Mr O'Brien said an extension could "further undermine their confidence in continuing their participation and growing their investment in the rental market".
It added: "Any expiry date that may be set in legislation for any extension would not be credible to the sector and would be likely to prompt significant numbers of landlord exits, when permissible."
Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin is reported to have been among several ministers who questioned whether consideration had been given to extending the eviction ban until necessary legislation passed for measures to protect tenants when a landlord terminates tenancy due to plans to sell.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the Government did not put the rights of landlords ahead of renters when the decision was made, and there was a concern that even more landlords would sell up if the ban was extended.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said the problem is a lack of housing and if the Government continued with the eviction ban indefinitely, less and less properties would come on stream.
It is easy for opposition parties to say the eviction ban should "roll on forever", he added.
Asked if the Government has put the rights of landlords ahead of renters, Minister @DonnellyStephen says 'Absolutely not'.— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 8, 2023
He tells @MorningIreland Government is concerned with providing security to tenants, and making sure there are enough rental unitshttps://t.co/XDOIhZhlx1 pic.twitter.com/gl4UQ83Rq3
Minister Donnelly said around 7,000 more social houses have become available since the ban was implemented last year.
"We can talk about rental assistance, we can talk about these things, the only thing that is going to fix this is having enough housing units in our country. And that is what the Government is absolutely committed to providing," he said.
Mr Donnelly said he is still a landlord and as someone who also rented for many years can "see the problem from both sides".
With additional reporting by Paul Cunningham and Laura Hogan