Anti-water charge campaigners say renters should not feel intimidated into paying their water bill, after controversial legal changes were passed in the Dáil last week.
The changes to ensure householders pay their water charges passed by 63 votes to 35.
Under the bill, tenants are obliged to pay their water bills, while landlords must inform Irish Water of the identity of their tenants.
The measures were included as amendments to the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions Bill) 2014, which has now passed report stage. It will now go to the Seanad.
However, Irish Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger said people in rented accommodation can still avoid paying.
“What tenants should do is say to their landlord: ‘this is between me and Irish Water, there’s no need for you to get involved.’
“The debt does not follow the landlord – all [they] have to do is prove they’re not the occupier of the premises.”
Meanwhile, the Civil Debt Bill was debated in the Dáil last week also. This will allow Irish Water seek an attachment order in court for money to be taken from people’s wages, welfare or pensions if the water charge arrears exceed €500.
Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín O’Caoláin said the coalition is being adversarial in doing this.
“This bill will mean that a debtor is dragged before a judge, with no recourse to appeal,” he said. “How does this differentiate – as the Government claims it does – between those who can’t and those who won’t pay?”
“It is intimidation by this Government.”
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