A BUILDING located in the heart of Dublin's Temple Bar is being rented to up to 45 people - and it is understood they are each paying €200 per month cash to live there.
The property has been rented out since the beginning of the year - and has had a steady turnover of renters, mainly students and low-income workers.
The registered owner of the building - when contacted by Independent.ie - insisted he did not know 45 people were living there.
"I rented the building completely unfurnished and I rented it to one individual who was occupying it with his friends," he said.
"I plan to look into it. I will deal with it as quickly and efficiently as I possibly can. Until now I have not been aware of there being any issue and I will look into the matter and address the matter appropriately."
When asked how much he earns from renting the property, he responded: "Not as much as you think, but that is a matter between me and the guy I’m renting it to".
The owner insisted that he is tax compliant and that the building is compliant with fire safety rules, adding: "That is all I have to say on the matter".
The property is registered with the Residential Tenancy Board (RTB) as a five-bedroom building with four floors.
Two of the tenants who are currently living there told Independent.ie they signed no contract when they moved in.
They also said they pay their money to one man, who appears to act as the rent collector.
This individual has not responded to any calls or messages.
There are eight-ten people in some of the rooms, with one wardrobe between three or four people. Others live out of their suitcases.
One of the bedrooms is located in the basement area beside a number of filing cabinets.
The building was previously used by a law firm and was advertised on the property market as an “office investment opportunity” with a purchase price of €475,000 last year.
A Brazilian man who recently lived there told Independent.ie that he had to pay a €300 security deposit.
When moving out, he was informed that his deposit would not be returned unless he found someone to take his place.
“I was desperate for somewhere to live. I only had five days to find somewhere after finding out I had to move out of my other house, and I had heard about this place from other Brazilians,” former tenant Carlos Eduardo Pupin told Independent.ie.
“At the time, I was paying €350 rent in cash and I didn’t sign any contract,” he claimed.
Last week, an advertisement appeared on Daft.ie for the property.
Only one picture was posted and the property overview section stated “One person currently living in this apartment.”
There are three toilets, a shower room and one kitchen.
Fire extinguishers are positioned in the basement, but it is not known how many fire exits are in the building, if any.
If there are 45 people paying €200 a month, that would amount to €9,000 a month or €108,000 per year.
Although this is an extreme case, rentals with a large number of individuals to a room are not uncommon here according to expert groups.
Chairperson of national housing charity Threshold, Aideen Hayden, says overcrowding is becoming a serious issue.
“Overcrowding is something that is becoming much more common and people are accepting dreadfully substandard properties as they are desperate,” she told Independent.ie.
“It is one of the weaknesses in the law as it stands that we don’t have adequate standards in terms of minimum space – legislation needs to be sharpened up in relation to overcrowding.
“I have been involved in dispute resolution proceedings with the RTB and I have seen many similar situations to this one,” she said.
A source told Independent.ie that generally a 'middle man' in these operations approaches the owner and rents the entire property from them.
This 'middle man' allegedly then fills the property with bunk beds to maximise his return on investment, selling the space on Facebook groups to migrant workers or students who are looking for cheap accommodation.
Dublin City Council has been contacted for a response in relation to any potential health and safety breaches.
A spokesperson for the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) said:
"It is extremely worrying if the report that up to forty two people are living in a five bedroomed house is correct. While the 2004 Act does not set out precisely the number of persons than can reside at any one time in a property, it is generally expected that the most that could share a room, depending on its size, is two. Consequently, if the number is correct this poses serious health and safety concerns for those tenants in the event of a fire.
"Having checked the Register we can confirm that this tenancy is registered, as a terraced five-bedroom property. Given the serious health and safety issues raised, the property concerned could not possibly comply with the Housing Regulations 2009 for the provision of proper light and ventilation, cooking and hygienic food storage, and fire safety measures.
"In light of the information received, the RTB will write immediately to the landlord setting out our concerns for the welfare of the tenants, and for the number of tenants in the property which does not conform with the registration of the dwelling. In addition, we will write to Dublin City Council, asking them to arrange, as a matter of urgency, an inspection of the dwelling."