Woman served with 'vulture fund' eviction notice vows to fight for her home

Tara Robinson has vowed to fight eviction from her home at The Strand Apartments Complex, Limerick, by direction of US "vulture fund" firm Oaktree Capital.

Woman served with 'vulture fund' eviction notice vows to fight for her home

By David Raleigh

Tara Robinson has vowed to fight eviction from her home at The Strand Apartments Complex, Limerick, by direction of US "vulture fund" firm Oaktree Capital.

Shortly before Christmas, Robinson, (aged 43), received a letter stating she was to vacate her home of seven years, by April 19.

Sova Properties Ltd, a subsidiary of Lalco Holdings Ltd, who were previously in charge of the apartments, had, according to its latest filed accounts, net liabilities of €64m, and bank loans of €118,407352.

This debt was transferred to NAMA on August 13, 2010, prior to NAMA selling the loans to Oaktree Capital Management on July 21, 2016.

According to Sova Property Ltd it was then directed by Oaktree to sell the apartments by vacant possession.

"I found the eviction notice in my letterbox when I got home from work. It explained that the apartments were going to be sold by June 2017, and that they were not going to be sold with any tenants in them, Ms Robinson said.

"Basically they would all be sold through auction to the highest bidder, so they could make as much money from them as possible."

At least 25 of the 120 apartments in question have been sold.

"(Last November) the reserve price was €165,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, which later sold at auction for €215,000. They were originally sold for €315,000 off the plans, back in the boom times."

Ms Robinson, who said she never missed the €700 monthly rent on her home, added: "I'm angry. I just can't believe it. I paid my rent on time throughout a horrible recession. The fact that some faceless vulture fund now owns my home, and want me out, and don't care about me, is making me really angry."

Residents, organised by AAA councillor Cian Prendiville, are joining forces to try to fight the evictions, with Cllr Prendiville having queried the validity of the eviction orders.

Ms Robinson described the situation as "disgusting".

Cllr Prendiville claimed that Department of Finance officials and the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, had "rolled out the red carpet for these vulture funds".

He claimed Mr Noonan had met "with representatives of the vultures personally eight times in 2013 and 2014 encouraging them to come to Ireland.

"On top of that his officials met with them on 65 occasions as well.

"Now the vultures have arrived on his very own doorstep, and the result is mass evictions in order to 'maximise value', the end result of which would be further massive increases in rent prices across Limerick."

The Strand apartments in Limerick. Pic: Press 22.
The Strand apartments in Limerick. Pic: Press 22.

Next week the AAA's Anti-Eviction Bill comes before the Dáil which aims to stop the sale of properties by vacant possession.

Meanwhile, remaining stoic in the face of homelessness, Tara Robinson declared: "I'm not going. I'm not going to leave. They'll have to take me to court if they want to get me out. I just think it's wrong and people need to take a stand."

According to its latest filed accounts, Sova Properties Ltd stated it intends to complete the sale of all its assets "as quickly as possible" and pay off its debt to Oaktree Capital by 2020.

A statement released by Sova said: "Debt secured against these properties was sold by NAMA to Oak Tree which has directed that Sova sell the properties to repay the debts. Sova remains in ongoing communication with tenants."

It added: "Unless there are specific circumstances to the contrary, Oak Tree’s view is that value is maximised by sale with vacant possession."

Oaktree Capital, the Department of Finance, and the Minister for Finance have been asked for comment.

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