‘The nice thing about being a landlord... is that you never seem to run out of other people’s money’
In a new opinion piece written for the Irish Times, Normal People author Sally Rooney has come out swinging against landlords, following the Irish government ending their eviction ban on 31 March 2023.
In the article, she quipped that landlords “never seem to run out of other people’s money” – a tongue-in-cheek reference to the time Margaret Thatcher said a similar thing about socialists.
“In the context of a housing emergency, in which many of those evicted will face the prospect of immediate and possibly prolonged homelessness, the resumption of evictions will not only be personally catastrophic for those affected: it will trigger an unprecedented escalation of a national crisis,” she wrote. “Many people in the State, including many children, will be left with nowhere to live, through no fault of their own, as a direct result of this decision.”
The Irish government defended their position by arguing that the eviction ban was causing a landlord exodus, and that this was reducing the number of properties on the private rental market and subsequently causing “dysfunction” in the housing system. Rooney argued against this, acknowledging that while many landlords are selling their properties, it’s more likely that this is to do with house prices reaching record high and little to do with the eviction ban.
“Considering that property prices have reached extraordinary highs since the pandemic, and given that rental properties represent financial commodities rather than homes for the people who own them, it should not be at all surprising that landlords are choosing this moment to cash out,” she wrote.
She stressed that to address Ireland’s housing crisis, evictions must be stopped. “To resume no-fault evictions during a housing emergency and cost-of-living crisis would be an unforgivable assault on human dignity,” she wrote. She also added that in the long term, the government should commit to building more state-owned social housing, and that renters should organise with tenants’ unions to make this happen. “If we are serious about ending the housing crisis, then we must all be prepared to stand in solidarity with tenants – and of course with our homeless population – in the struggle for justice.”