On Wednesday April 28th, Dail Eireann was presented with The USI’s Residential Tenancies (Student Rents and Other Protections) (Covid-19) Act 2021 by Sinn Fein and signed by 56 opposition TDS.

In a statement from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), they outlined the changes that would take place under the proposed Bill:

“The Bill would prevent student accommodation providers from forcing students to pay more than one month’s rent in advance – currently providers are asking for up to a year’s rent in advance, with no opportunity to pay in installments.  

Students would also be able to exit contracts with 28-days’ notice and access redress for prepaid rent in the event they cannot take up student accommodation due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

Opposition party member and Sinn Fein spokesperson for Higher and Further Education Rose Conway-Walsh said the USI Bill “will protect student renters in the future” and “right the wrongs that cost hard pressed students and families during the pandemic.”

After opposition party comments In the Dail today, Government TD’s spoke out in support of the Bill Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien committing to “Working with Government colleagues, opposition parties, and the USI in progressing (the Bill) to committee stage.”

How does the Bill progress from here?

The Government have stated this Bill will be passed on to the ‘Committee stage’ of the legislation process. In short, this will allow Government and opposition party members to put down amendments to the Bill. There is no limit to the number of times a member can speak on the amendment on the Bill. The Oireachtas suggests this stage can be “lengthy.”

Once the bill is agreed on, it is then passed on to the report stage. Members may not bring forward any new amendments, only amendments which arise from Committee Stage. Unlike Committee Stage, Members may speak only twice on each amendment, and their second contribution is limited to two minutes.

Once the report stage is finalised and agreed, the final stage is then brought on. This often takes place directly after the report stage. Members usually make short statements on whether the Bill would constitute good law. Then the House agrees to pass the Bill, and a Member may call a division by saying “Vótáil”.

Luke Murphy, Co-Editor.

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