Wednesday 26 July 2017

'The tenant did a runner and left the house totally destroyed' - Landlord says vacant homes should not be taxed

Homeowner claims the bathroom was damaged, furniture broken and dead rats discovered in house

Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

A landlord whose home was destroyed by a tenant on rent allowance has slammed calls for a tax on vacant properties.

The homeowner contacted Independent.ie after a recent poll suggested that over half of people would be in favour of a tax on empty properties.

The latest CSO figures show there are 198,000 empty homes, excluding holiday homes in Ireland.

But a Dubliner, who has one rental property in Balbriggan, criticised such a move claiming "the landlord gets a raw deal".

Videos and pictures, given to Independent.ie by the homeowner, show the condition the property was left in after their tenant "did a runner" in recent weeks.

She claims it will cost "thousands of euro" to repair the damage caused".

"The tenant did a runner and left the whole house totally destroyed. Every wardrobe was full of clothes, papers, shoes, bags, wigs and even wedding certificates.

"All the carpets will have to be replaced, the kitchen will have to be replaced. The curtains were all pulled off. Every stick of furniture had to be taken and destroyed.

The bathroom at the house in Balbriggan after the tenant departed. Picture supplied by landlord
The bathroom at the house in Balbriggan after the tenant departed. Picture supplied by landlord
The house in Balbriggan after the tenant departed. Picture supplied by landlord
Wardrobes filled with irtems belonging to tenant at the property in Balbriggan. Picture supplied by landlord
The house in Balbriggan after the tenant departed. Picture supplied by landlord
The house in Balbriggan after the tenant departed. Picture supplied by landlord
The house in Balbriggan after the tenant departed. Picture supplied by landlord

"It will have to be repainted from top to toe," she said. "I don't know how much exactly it will cost but it will be thousands."

Video taken by the tenant shows significant quantities of rubbish left behind and damage to appliances. A dead rat, discovered under a staircase, can also be seen amongst the rubbish.

The landlord, who asked not to be named, explained that they put the property online for rent two years ago and was contacted by the tenant. Monthly rent was €800.

This tenant paid €150 while the Department of Social Protection provided the remaining €650 in rent allowance.

The homeowner had several problems throughout the tenancy and she claimed that repeated requests were made to the tenant to open windows to stop damp forming.

According to the landlord an en suite bathroom needed to be refurbished and a gas fire boiler replaced during the period.

The house in Balbriggan before it was rented. Picture supplied by owner
The house in Balbriggan before it was rented. Picture supplied by owner
The house in Balbriggan before it was rented. Picture supplied by owner
The house in Balbriggan before it was rented. Picture supplied by owner
The house in Balbriggan before it was rented. Picture supplied by owner
The house in Balbriggan before it was rented. Picture supplied by owner
The house in Balbriggan before it was rented. Picture supplied by owner

A number of weeks ago the tenant left the property unannounced allegedly without paying the final month's rent.

"I felt so enraged," the landlord said. "Anybody can get a bad tenant but in my opinion the landlord has no rights with their property once they give it to a client with rent allowance.

"The tenant should not be able to walk into a fresh house and walk away two years later, leaving it like that."

Recent research by the Peter McVerry showed that 62 per cent of people are in favour of a tax on empty homes.

The charity is now urging the Government to bring forward legislation to introduce an empty homes tax in Ireland.

However the homeowner said they would never lease their property to somebody in receipt of rent allowance again.

She added:  "They are talking about doing this because the homeless situation is so bad. But in my experience the council will not speak to the landlord directly. They hand out all this money and they do no checks to see what condition the home is being kept in by the tenant."

A spokesperson for Fingal County Council said: "Rent Allowance is provided by the Department of Social Protection.

"If there is an issue the Homeowner should liaise with the Department or the relevant Community Welfare Officer on the matter."

The Peter McVerry Trust said they had no details of the case and it is not related to them. "On that basis we cannot put forward a comment."

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