A report carried out by the Economic Social Research Institute did not find a significant rent arrears problem during the first three months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien has told the Dáil.
He was responding to Sinn Féin's Housing Spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin, who said many people had lost income or jobs as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
Mr Ó Broin said that his party had carried out an online survey of over 1,000 renters and 70% of respondents said they would have rent arrears of up to €3,000 after the first three months of the pandemic.
Minister O'Brien said many renters were in hospitality and the sectors that were badly hit by the pandemic.
He also said it was "concern" that only 7,000 people had applied for the Emergency Rent Supplement Payment.
He pointed out that people should not be falling into rent arrears due to losing their job or a reduction in wages due to the pandemic.
Mr Ó Broin asked the minister to ensure that the rent arrears burden is fairly shared across all concerned.
He urged the minister to consider the possibility of partial or full write-downs of arrears and interest free payment holidays for landlords on their mortgages.
Minister O'Brien also said he would bring a new Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill to Cabinet in the next couple of days.
He said this would include permanent measures to strengthen rights for tenants and look at how the Government can provide assistance to tenants before rent arrears build up.
Social Democrats TD Cian O'Callaghan asked if the emergency legislation would only cover tenants that can prove they had been impacted by Covid-19.
The Minister said there would be a couple of parts to the bill one relates to permanent changes to tenancies which would continue after the pandemic.
He said another aspect would be focused on those most vulnerable during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Mr O'Brien told the Dáil that he has initiated a review into shared housing.
He was responding to Labour's Aodhán Ó Ríordáin who asked if the review was underway in light of Covid-19 and the fact that such accommodation would be "clearly inappropriate".
Mr Ó Ríordáin said: "It was a bad idea before Covid because it is not an ethical housing policy there is no dignity attached to this proposal."
The Minister said not one development had been built but he said he was aware of applications recently in the space of co-living.
He said he wanted to ensure there would be no intended consequences on things like purpose-built student accommodation.
Mr O'Ríordáin said it might be true that no co-living accommodation has been built but he said planning permissions had been granted.
The Minister said he was aware of this and he said out of 62,546 homes that were approved up to June this year and 600 were deemed as shared accommodation.