Latest: Councillor brands 'mass eviction' of Cork apartments an 'attempt to profiteer'

Update: 4.28pm: A City Councillor in Cork has condemned the "mass eviction" of Leeside Apartments in the city, calling it an "opportunistic attempt to profiteer off the housing emergency".

Solidarity Councillor Fiona Ryan said the move by Lugus Captial, who recently bought the Leeside Apartments off Bachelors Quay and have served eviction notices to all tenants, has said the move was made "in order to get around the rent pressure zone restrictions".

She said: "The eviction notices, with the landlord referenced as Larea Fa Fund II DAC, is yet another opportunistic attempt to profiteer off the housing emergency.

Lugus Capital has cited "substantial refurbishments" as the reason for the eviction.

Councillor Ryan said: "Having gone door to door and having met tenants over the past few days including having the opportunity to view apartments inside, it is absolutely certain that this is merely a mechanism to exploit the long standing loopholes in existing legislation in order to get around the rent pressure zone restrictions.

Councillor Fiona Ryan.

"Lugus Capital has advised that this issue is a matter of fire safety however the only reference to fire safety in the list of refurbishments provided to tenants on their notices of tenancy termination was the requirement to replace fire doors. This is not, in my opinion, a refurbishment that is in large enough scale to necessitate the residents to have to leave.

"Additionally, Lugus Captial advised that there are only 23 apartments with residents in situ. They aren't however including the 36 apartments contracted out to UCC students currently.

"We need immediate action from the government and a complete ban on economic evictions until the housing supply emergency is resolved. If Lugus Capital are allowed to get away with this, other landlords and vulture funds will follow.

"Let us be absolutely clear; this is an attempt to circumvent the rent pressure zone restrictions that prevent them from hiking rents to the disgraceful market value levels. Don't give them an inch."

Earlier: Company at centre of alleged 'mass eviction' in Cork say refurbishment necessary for fire safety

The company who own the Cork apartment block at the centre of an alleged "mass eviction" has said that the refurbishment is necessary to address fire safety issues.

"Cork’s Leeside Apartments are to undergo a €3 million refurbishment, with works to commence in December 2017," a statement by Lugus Capital said.

"Leeside Apartments are currently not in compliance with their fire certificates, so the refurbishment is necessary not only to bring the building up to modern standards but also to maintain the safety of the residents.

"Lugus Capital acquired the building at the start of October 2017, and as part of their acquisition process, they carried out a full structural survey and fire safety inspection.

"Currently, there are only 23 residential tenancies at Leeside Apartments. All residential tenants have been issued notices, with full notice periods corresponding to the length of their tenancy."

Termination letters received by the impacted residents, as raised in the Dáil by Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Mick Barry and seen by the Irish Examiner, state: “The following works will be carried out. The installation of new fire doors, the refurbishment of all common areas, installation of new flooring throughout common areas and apartments in the building, refurbishment and redecoration of apartments and installation of new kitchens in apartments”.

The letters did say the residents would be offered the opportunity to reoccupy the property if it becomes available for re-letting within a period of six months from the expiry of the period of notice required “or if a dispute in relation to the validity of the notice was referred to the (Residential Tenancies) Board under part 6 (of the Residential Tenancies Act) for resolution”.

The tenancies are terminating in early 2018 with residents given the “whole of the 24 hours of the termination date to vacate and give up possession of the property”.

The property at the intersection of Bachelor’s Quay and Grattan Street in Cork City was on the market earlier this year listed as earning €676,000 per annum with “strong potential to increase annual rental income through refurbishment and active asset management”.

The block comprised of 78 apartments (175 bed spaces) and a private car park with 32 spaces.

A brochure at the time it was for sale — guided at €7.75m and with an 87% occupancy rate at that point — stated that “ in recent months, as apartments have become available, management have not re-let the properties to allow for new purchasers to carry out renovation works”.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mick Barry TD said that many of the families living there are now facing the threat of homelessness.

"We have young families, they have kids," he said.

"They have kids that go to school in the vicinity of the apartment block.

"One family I spoke to pay €700 per month rent. [The family] has gone out and started to look for alternative accommodation. The prices being asked: €1,000, €1,100, €1,200, €1,300."

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