Sunday 17 February 2019

'We were told our leases were being renewed' - homelessness fears for families given notice to quit apartment block

Close to home: Leo Varadkar lives nearby. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Close to home: Leo Varadkar lives nearby. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

TENANTS served with notices to quit a Dublin apartment block were given the option to renew their leases only two months ago.

Residents of nine apartments in Riverwood Hall, Castleknock received letters in the post last week notifying them of the landlord’s intention to sell the properties.

However, a number of tenants have revealed how they were asked to extend their rental agreements only eight weeks ago.

A property manager with estate agent Hooke & MacDonald emailed tenants whose leases were due to expire on November 14 asking if they were happy to remain in the apartments.

"If you are happy to remain in the property we will send out new leases to you for signing," the email said.

Some tenants said they subsequently never received the leases.

A family-of-four who have been living in Riverwood Hall for four years claim they were told they could lease their apartment for a further two years.

"We were shocked to then get a letter in through the door saying we would have to leave within a matter of weeks... we've been looking around now and we're looking at having to pay an extra €800-€900 to move elsewhere," one tenant said.

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Donnelly said the notices "go against the spirit of the Tyrrelstown legislation".

The Tyrellstown amendment was introduced in 2017 to prevent mass evictions whereby residents in single developments are served with termination notices simultaneously by a landlord in order to sell the entire development with vacant possession.

It followed the high-profile attempt to terminate multiple tenancies in a development in Tyrrelstown, Dublin in 2016.

“I have had contact from a number of other residents over the past 24 hours who are desperately fearful of what is going to happen to them now, they said they have been desperately trying to get new accommodation but without any success," councillor Donnelly said.

“I have written to the estate agent involved and have asked that these families be given as much time as is needed to be able to secure appropriate accommodation.

"I am also looking to ascertain if the real owner of the properties is now NAMA following the appointment of the receiver; if so, then the Taoiseach must step in to stop these evictions."

Labour TD Joan Burton is calling for tenants to be given more time to consider their options.

"This decision by landlords is mean spirited, coming so soon after Christmas and gives tenants grossly inadequate time to consider their options.

"Some residents may qualify for the County Council home purchase scheme if their joint income is below €75,000 (or €50,000 single). Either way, residents need a lot more time to consider their options."

Tenants were given the option of buying the properties and were told to advise the estate agent of any potential offer by Friday.

A spokesperson for the appointed receiver from Grant Thornton said the notices are compliant with the Tyrellstown legislation as only 9 apartments have been issued termination notices and "Tyrellstown legislation is applicable to 10 properties and above".

“The tenants have been given an additional 28 days’ notice above statutory obligations to allow for alternative accommodation to be sought,” the spokesperson added.

A spokeswoman for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he will "respond to any requests for assistance."
She said in a statement: "None of Taoiseach’s constituents have been in touch with him or his constituency office about as of yet.

"He will look in to the matter and respond to any requests for assistance made in the normal way.

"Laws to protect tenants have been considerably strengthened by the Government and it is against the law for a landlord to issue more than ten notices to quit in a development at any one time.

"Also, long-standing tenants must be given several months notice so they have time to find an alternative place to rent."

A spokesperson for Grant Thornton said: "I can confirm that, as administrator of the estate of Liam Maye, 9 tenants of Riverwood Hall were issued with notice of termination on the 14th January 2019. All tenants were given statutory notice plus an additional 28 days.

"Tenants have also been given first right of refusal to purchase. There are no other properties or tenants to be affected in the future."

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