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Friday 16 November 2018

'I never stopped renting... The house is still the same' - Landlord of overcrowded property 'dodges inspection' to continue to rent

  • Landlord continues to overcrowd property after council inspection
  • 'Some tenants moved out so I just found new people' - Landlord
  • 23 people in three-bed house - with one shower and two toilets
  • Group of 'landlords' working under the guidance of one man, who we cannot name for legal reasons
Pictured: Tomislav Cubic, who uses the name 'Eguna Latse' on social media to advertise the Rathmines property
Pictured: Tomislav Cubic, who uses the name 'Eguna Latse' on social media to advertise the Rathmines property
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A landlord exposed by Independent.ie for renting a small three-bed house in Dublin to 23 people at one time has continued to overcrowd the property - even though authorities were alerted to the dangerous conditions.

Tomislav Cubic this week posted an advertisement on Facebook for the house in Rathmines.

It reads: "Shared room, single bed €350. Wifi, washing machine, dryer, on [sic] Rathmines. PM me if interested ;)".

Independent.ie revealed in October how Mr Cubic was dangerously overcrowding the house, with up to eight young women sleeping in one room.

There is only one shower and two toilets in the house.

The property was so overcrowded when viewed, tenants had to hang their clothes on bunk beds and keep suitcases in the hallway.

One of the overcrowded rooms in the Rathmines house
One of the overcrowded rooms in the Rathmines house

One room was crammed with four single beds and two of the tenants had to climb over the other beds to get into their own.

Council's response

Dublin City Council said the property was inspected in November and "On this date the property appeared to be partially occupied and could not be considered to be overcrowded."

Independent.ie previously revealed how bunk beds and items of furniture were being removed before inspections to deceive council staff about overcrowded conditions in houses across Dublin.

Mr Cubic denied removing furniture and beds, while the council told Independent.ie; "Where the rented property is found to be non-compliant there is no authority under housing standards legislation to require the landlord to terminate a tenancy, to vacate a property or to determine the type of occupants of any rented property.

"There is no provision under the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017  that regulate overcrowding in private rented dwellings."

After the original article was published, Mr Cubic messaged the 23 tenants in November saying he "needed to close the house" and return home to Croatia as his wife was "due a baby soon".

However, the property is still being rented out and Mr Cubic confirmed he is still acting as landlord.

When asked if the house is still overcrowded, he responded: "I never stopped renting… the house is still the same… There is a capacity for 20 people in the house… Some tenants wanted to stay so I continued to rent and decided not to move back , some tenants moved out so I just found new people.

"I am not writing to you any more," he added.

A source close to some previous tenants said a number of beds were moved back into the house a few weeks ago.

"It’s business as usual," the source said. 

'Enforcement action'

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council stated "Enforcement action is currently being taken under the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. There is no provision under this legislation to require a landlord to cease renting a property."

Mr Cubic has been using the name 'Eguna Latse' on social media to advertise the property.

In response to questions about dodging council inspections, Mr Cubic said: "Never [did I remove beds or furniture]. The owner knows and the council knows. They meet lots of the tenants and talk every few months. The standard of accommodation at the property does not fall below the minimum standards required under the legislation. I am tax compliant in all respects".

Below is a copy of the lease between Mr Cubic and the owner of the house.

lease number 2.jpg

It’s not known if the owner is aware that the property is being subletted as we have been unable to contact them.

It was previously advertised as a three-bed house and was sold for €499,950 to the current owner.

Ring of landlords

This property is just one of up to forty that a group of landlords are managing across Dublin.

Independent.ie found seven of the houses- including the Rathmines property - to be overcrowded.

The landlords - including Mr Cubic - are all working under the guidance of one man, who we cannot name for legal reasons.

Up to eight landlords controlling 40 properties are involved in the scheme. Each of them runs a number of the properties on behalf of the businessman we cannot name.

Mr Cubic denied having any involvement with the other properties which are located in Ranelagh, Rathfarnham, Rialto, Shankill, Tallaght and Clontarf.

"I know of some of those properties you mentioned. As far as I'm aware some of those properties that you have mentioned are rented by individuals on a sole trader basis," he said.

"I know redacted [the businessman] personally.These houses are run like myself, registered as sole traders and earning a profit by subletting legitimately. Myself personally and redacted  [the businessman] have no business association with these people. They just happen to be in the same line of business of subletting."

We exposed how these landlords have been removing mattresses and furniture the night before inspections and storing them in warehouses in Bray and Drumcondra.

All the properties viewed are two-storey houses in residential areas, except for a three-storey house in Clontarf.

The Clontarf house was split into 14 bedrooms when viewed by Independent.ie, each occupied by one person. A tenant currently living there said they are each paying "close to" €700, meaning the house would be generating around €10,000 every month in rent.

"One of the rooms doesn't have a window, so we think that person pays less, it's the cheapest room in the house," another tenant said.

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