Thursday 19 April 2018

'I simply don't have the money' - Homeowners told to fork out €2.25m for defects or face evacuation

  • Homeowners told last month that the properties had a number of fire safety defects
  • Councillor calls on Government to intervene
  • Many of the residents are 'very upset' and fear they'll have to move out
Bru Na Sionna and inset, homeowner Cliff O'Neill
Bru Na Sionna and inset, homeowner Cliff O'Neill
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

The owner of a property in a Co Clare estate has said he will need to take out a loan and is facing into debt after being told to pay for fire safety and other defects.

Up to 240 homeowners in the Bru Na Sionna estate in Shannon were told the week before Christmas that they need to pay €2.25m to amend the defects in their homes or face evacuation.

Cliff O'Neill (44), who bought a duplex for €205,000 in 2007, said he has been told to pay €4,800 by next week as an "initial" payment.

Each homeowner's bill is based on the square footage of their property.

"I simply don't have the money. The thing about it is that it's down to fire safety but we don't really know what the issues are, it's quite vague and nobody has told us exactly what's wrong," he told Independent.ie.

He is currently renting out the property to tenants but said it is now "essentially worthless."

"Firstly you would expect an investigation as to how and why this happened. We're now being told we legally have to pay for the defects or action will be taken. If I had six or eight months notice to pay the money, maybe it would be possible, but basically I've no choice other than to borrow."

Independent councillor Gerry Flynn has said homeowners should not be forced to pay for defects when they bought the property in good faith, assuming it was fit for purpose.

Cllr Flynn is chair of Clare's housing committee and is calling on the Government to intervene as many of the residents in the popular estate are "very upset" and fear they'll have to move out.

"There was a meeting held with the owners and some have been told to pay an initial payment of €7,000. That's very worrying as there's obviously more to come," he told Independent.ie.

"It's a hell of a lot of money to come up with and it's awful to think these people are heading into a new year and they're being faced with a bill like that.

"The general view here is that you would have expected when people buy a property and it goes through a planning process, you would expect that it is fit for purpose. But years after buying them, now they're being told there are defects."

A number of businesses are also situated in the estate including a barbers', a florist and beauty salons.

One business owner who is currently renting their office space said they weren't informed about the defects.

"We weren't informed about it, I think only the owners were made aware. I'm really happy here and it's a nice area so I hope there isn't more bad news down the line."

The homeowners were told that if the €2.25m isn't paid they are facing an evacuation after Clare County Council set out a schedule of works to be carried out.

The estate was built by Paddy Burke Builders which went into receivership in 2010.

A spokesperson for Clare County Council said: "Clare County Fire and Rescue Service is satisfied that the necessary measures to correct outstanding fire safety concerns are being undertaken by the management company."

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