THE eviction of more than 20 families in Cork to facilitate refurbishment of apartments epitomises one strand of the unequal relationships at the root of our housing crisis.
The landlord, Lugus Capital, bought the 70-unit block in October and plans a €3m refit. The company cited work necessary to meet fire regulations as a reason to evict tenants, but the only reference to fire safety in eviction notices was the proposed replacement of fire doors. That task hardly seems so challenging as to require empty apartments. The imbalance between the difficulty of completing the proposed works and the consequences for tenants facing eviction
is obvious — especially if tenants can safely stay in their homes while the work is undertaken.
Some of these families may face homelessness, as alternative accommodation in the same rent bracket does not exist in that neighbourhood. Pressing housing demand is exacerbated by Airbnb lettings and a relentless demand for student accommodation. Stated in its coldest, free-market terms, in this instance our laws allow landlords to maximise their profits no matter what impact their actions have on tenants. Maybe that’s what Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, meant when he eulogised this “Republic of Opportunity”? In the absence of legislation to control this behaviour and protect compliant tenants, that seems a valid interpretation.
And we wonder why extreme politics are on the rise.
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