Monday 23 July 2018

'I left Ireland because I felt intimidated' - eight men force their way into apartment to evict tenants

  • Tenant claims Paul Howard said 'that's what happens when you mess with me' after being unlawfully evicted
  • Receiver appointed over apartment told tenants not to pay any more rent to Howard
  • Howard then served an invalid eviction notice on tenants after they refused to pay rent cash-in-hand
  • 'Eight guys forced open the door, put most of our belongings in bin bags and threw them on the street'
  • Tenant's bedroom had no window and a shower in the corner of the room
  • RTB ordered Howard to pay tenant €3,260 but he hasn't received a cent to date
Bruno Clement's room had a shower in the corner and no windows. Inset, Paul Howard
Bruno Clement's room had a shower in the corner and no windows. Inset, Paul Howard
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A TENANT who was unlawfully evicted from his home by businessman Paul Howard has told how he left Ireland because he felt "extremely intimidated".

Bruno Clement (29) described how his belongings were thrown out on the street after eight men forced their way into the apartment and evicted the seven people living there.

The incident happened in January 2016 after the receivers appointed to the apartment wrote to the tenants advising them not to pay any more rent to their landlord, Paul Howard.

Howard demanded that the tenants continue to pay rent cash-in-hand and after they refused, due to written instructions from Cabot Financial, he evicted them from the apartment and refused to return their deposits.

All tenants had to sleep in emergency accommodation and hostels after their "distressing" experience.

Three of the seven lodged complaints to the Residential Tenancies Board and Howard was ordered to pay them a total of €7,694.

None of the tenants, including Mr Clement who is owed €3,260, have received a cent to date.

Mr Clement said he left Ireland shortly after his ordeal.

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Bruno Clement's room had a shower in the corner and 'no windows'

He claims Mr Howard called him "numerous" times after he lodged the complaint and said he felt "extremely intimidated".

In texts seen by Independent.ie, Mr Howard said "Enjoy your life...remember what you did and what you did to me... you only have two choices 1. Pay your invoice or 2. walk away now... after your lies..."

"Once he called me and said 'this is what happens when you mess with Paul Howard'", he told Independent.ie.

"I was away at the time when the men forced their way in [to the apartment]. It was really frightening for the others living there. We called the police but there was nothing they could do because it was a civil matter. We originally changed the locks but he [Howard] kept going to the apartment, banging on the door and shouting 'give me my money, give me my money."

Mr Clement said his room was "the crappiest ever", had no windows and there was a shower in the corner of the room.

He moved in on December 1, 2015 and paid €600 rent and a €600 deposit before being removed from the apartment the following month.

"I once asked him could I wire money instead of paying cash and he said no, strictly cash. Sometimes he would get people to go to his launderette business to pay.

"He kept calling me saying I wouldn't get back my deposit. I lost so much valuable stuff after everything that happened. They smashed the door and eight men, like really muscular men, went into each room with flash lights and they put every belonging into bin bags and the two of them went outside on the street. All our belongings were mixed up so I didn't get a lot of them back as I was away at the time.

"I couldn't afford the legal fees to do anything so I just left it, but when I read about everything happening with him this week I had to speak out."

Last week, a man was hospitalised after a group of "up to ten men" forcibly removed tenants from another apartment owned by Paul Howard in Mountjoy Square.

"We were in bed and we heard a load of banging this morning, it was like a sledgehammer banging off something. Then there was a load of commotion and the tenants were all outside in the hallway in their pyjamas after being dragged out," a resident of the building told Independent.ie.

"There were around 10 heavies and they have now locked themselves inside," he added.

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Damage done to the front door of the apartment Picture: Amy Molloy

Six tenants had been sharing the apartment in Mountjoy Square.

The High Court issued an injunction before Christmas blocking Paul Howard from evicting the tenants until the termination of the dispute resolution proceedings with the Residential Tenancies Board.

On Wednesday, receiver Ken Fennell secured another interim injunction against Paul Howard and Una McClean, who it's understood are in a relationship, preventing them from interfering with properties in Mountjoy Square, Harold's Cross, and Kilnamanagh, Tallaght.

The order requires the defendants, their agents and all persons with knowledge of the injunction to cease trespassing, not damage, not collect rent from tenants, and hand over possession of the properties to the receiver.

Counsel said that Mr Fennell's representative found a mother and her daughter living in a one roomed shed beside another of Mr Howard's properties.

Counsel said there also had been an attempt by Mr Howard and another person to remove a representative of the receiver from one of the properties.

Mr Howard said "should I even reply" when asked to comment on the above.

He later said: "The story is wrong. At this time we have been advised not to comment."

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