Cork man fighting eviction walks out of hearing

The Residential Tenancy Board (RTB) has been criticised after a man fighting eviction from the home he had lived in for 19 years walked out of an appeal hearing.

Cork man fighting eviction walks out of hearing

Tenants rights activist and Independent councillor Diarmaid Ó Cadhla said the RTB should have listened to Leo Owens’ concerns about fire safety and living conditions in his flat.

“We didn’t get our hearing yesterday. We are now exploring Leo’s legal options,” said Mr Ó Cadhla.

The RTB has already deemed two termination of tenancy notices served on Mr Owens by his landlord to be invalid.

The man has vowed to continue his fight to remain in the flat in Cobh, Co Cork, despite the conditions.

“This is my home for the last 19 years,” he said. “There is nowhere else to live around Cobh. I will be without a house, definitely, if the landlord forces me out.”

Mr Owens, 48, who has a range of medical issues and who is in receipt of disability allowance, moved into the one-bedroom flat in 1999 and entered into a tenancy agreement in 2007. The rent is €125 a week.

His shower and toilet do not work and he uses four buckets to collect water from a leaking ceiling.

The landlord acquired the building in 2016. He says he was served with a fire safety notice in November 2016 and that he needs vacant possession to conduct upgrade works which could take four to six months.

The RTB ruled in April that an initial notice of termination served on Mr Owens in January was invalid. Mr Owens refused to leave and signed a document accepting he continues to live there at his own risk.

The landlord served another notice of termination in June for alleged non-payment of rent but Mr Owens said the only reason he was in rent arrears was because the landlord will not sign rent supplement forms.

In August, the RTB ruled the June notice was also invalid and that the landlord had failed to prove Mr Owens was in rent arrears.

The RTB said the matter of the standards and maintenance of the flat was not properly before the adjudicator. The landlord appealed.

Mr Ó Cadhla said when they were not allowed raise the conditions at yesterday’s hearing, they walked out. Mr Ó Cadhla said it is one of the worst cases of tenant mistreatment he has seen.

“This is a classic example of a landlord trying to extract the maximum possible from mainly state revenue without providing the basic minimum standards,” said Mr Ó Cadhla. “It shouldn’t be tolerated.”

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