Minister Eoghan Murphy urged to act on mass evictions

Residents of a Cork City apartment block who are facing eviction by a vulture fund have called on Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to introduce legislation to block mass evictions.

Families and individuals living in the Leeside Apartments have been served notice after the new owner claimed the complex is in need of substantial renovation.

Resident Aimee O’Riordan said those living in the apartments will continue the fight despite a recent landmark ruling from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) which backed up the vulture fund.

Notices to quit had been issued to more than 30 residents by Lugus Capital after they purchased the apartments in October 2017.

While some tenants have moved out, there are still more than 20 households in the complex.

Residents have spent more than six months fighting notices to quit as they believe Lugus Capital is simply exploiting a loophole which allows landlords to evict tenants if significant refurbishment is needed.

Ms O’Riordan said guidelines introduced by Mr Murphy have “failed” and they need to be fast-tracked into legislation to ensure they have to be adhered to.

“It has been a long battle to this date and we are not giving up, we are currently in the process of appealing the RTB’s decision,” she said.

“I do understand that the adjudicator can only base his decision on what is in legislation at the moment.

“What I don’t understand, the new guidelines that were issued last December or January by Eoghan Murphy, which are merely just guidelines, and when we brought this to the RTB, the adjudicator noted that guidelines are just like writing something on a piece of paper saying you have to follow that — they had no effect or no holding on his judgment.”

 

Tenants believe the landlord is using the evictions to significantly increase the amount they charge each month.

Ms O’Riordan currently pays €700 per month in rent for her apartment which overlooks the river, but said she had been told the rent will rise to between €1,500 and €1,700 when the apartments are renovated.

“I am willing to take a rent increase, no problem, but within reason — €1,500 to €1,700, I don’t know who can afford that,” she said.

The Dáil was suspended for a time yesterday when Solidarity-PBP TD Mick Barry demanded answers from Mr Murphy and asked for legislation.

Mr Murphy said: “It’s not the case that guidelines failed to protect the residents in this instance. The fact of the matter is an independent body, the RTB, found that substantial refurbishment was required.”

Mr Barry said some of the residents had even offered to move to alternative accommodation for a month while work was being carried out if they could keep their tenancies, but this option was refused.

“This is about getting the tenants out, getting new tenants in and hiking the rent, possibly doubling the rents,” he said.

“In Cork City this would constitute the single biggest surge in homelessness seen since this current housing crisis struck.”


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