The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has ruled that a notice of termination served on a resident of the Leeside Apartment building in Cork City is valid — in a move a TD said opened the way for other tenants to be evicted.
Cork North Central Solidarity TD Mick Barry called on Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to urgently introduce legislation to protect tenants following the RTB ruling.
The 78-unit apartment block was acquired in October by Lugus Capital, which is effectively acting as local agent on behalf of the international vulture fund Bain Capital.
Notices to quit issued to more than 30 residents by Lugus Capital after the 2017 purchase of the Leeside Apartments were contested at the RTB in April and May.
Now the RTB ruling has stated that vacant possession of one of the apartments in question was not merely desirable or preferable but was actually necessary in order to substantially refurbish or renovate the dwelling.
The adjudication can be appealed.
The 18-page ruling by the RTB includes submissions made by the different parties, including from a director of Lugus Capital in which it was argued that “you could not buy the building without carrying out the refurbishment as it would not make commercial sense”.
A pre-purchase report said works of €3.2m would have to be carried out.
It said the Bachelor’s Quay section of the complex has been vacant since December and work has been ongoing.
Earlier this year the Irish Examiner reported that while most of the student tenants had left one block, more than 20 remaining households in other blocks were facing eviction, which they were appealing against.
The tenant in the case ruled on by the RTB had argued that the landlord had an option to carry out the bare minimum of work to the property; that it was not necessary to move out for four weeks; and that he could stay with friends.
The tenants’ representatives submitted: “One has to draw the line between a landlord wanting vacant possession and needing it.”
The RTB found as fact that the notice of termination served on January 10 last was valid, including “on the basis that a landlord intends to substantially refurbish or renovate the dwelling in a way which requires the dwelling to be vacated for that purpose”.
The adjudicator said he was satisfied that “on the balance of probabilities the landlord views the termination of the tenancy as essential in order to carry out the works as set out in the notice of termination”.
Mr Barry claimed that although the ruling was made against one particular resident, it is understood that similar rulings will now be made against all of the other appellants.
He said residents will meet to discuss the ruling and whether appeals will be lodged.
Mr Barry said: “The Leeside families have nowhere to go, the threat of homelessness is very real now.”
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