Friday 17 August 2018

'I'm moving home, you need to move out' - Tenants in overcrowded house told to leave

  • Dublin City Council says it is 'dealing with the case'
  • Tenants told they 'need to leave' as landlord returning to eastern Europe
  • Reportedly 'very erratic' since Independent.ie's investigation
  • Owners of other properties come forward to say they 'had no idea' how houses are being run
  • Group of eight landlords managing more than 40 properties across Dublin
  • Seven houses viewed by Independent.ie had between 20 and 30 people living there
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A landlord running an overcrowded house in Dublin has told the tenants they need to leave as he is returning to his home country and is "closing the house", Independent.ie has learned.

The man, who is from eastern Europe, claims he is moving back home on November 2 as his "wife is sick".

Independent.ie revealed last week how a group of landlords have been managing more than 40 properties across Dublin - with some of them housing between 20 and 30 people.

There are up to eight people in the group - including this man. He is currently renting a house in Rathmines to 23 girls, with eight young women sleeping in one room.

In correspondence seen by Independent.ie, he gave the women until the middle of November to move out.

"I need to close the house... if you stay until November 15 then I will charge you for that days," he said.

He said his "friend" will meet with the tenants to return their deposits after he "leaves the country".

A source said the man has "become very erratic" since it was exposed how the group of property managers is raking in thousands of euro cash-in-hand on a weekly basis.

This man is also director of a property management company. His wife, who it's understood is living in Ireland, is listed as company secretary of that same company.

He denied that his property management company has anything to do with the 40 properties or any of the other overcrowded houses viewed and insisted he is tax compliant.

Independent.ie obtained a copy of the lease between this man and the owner of the Rathmines house but it does not include any agreement about subletting.

lease 2.jpg

Independent.ie has been unable to contact the owner.

A spokesperson for the council said: "Dublin City Council is aware of this case and is dealing with it.  In relation to the risk of eviction the tenant/s need to bring that issue to the attention of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)."

However, the house is not registered with the Residential Tenancies Board as rental accommodation.

The law sets out the following as the minimum period of notice which must be given to tenants to move out:

  • Less than 6 months tenancy - 28 days notice
  • 6+ months, but less than 1 year - 35 days
  • 1+ year, but less than 2 years - 42 days.

Some of the tenants in the house have been living there for "over a year", a source revealed.

Even though the property is not registered with the RTB, a spokesperson said: "The RTB does not condone this behaviour and strongly recommendations that tenants who believe they have been served an invalid notice of termination contact the RTB for more information or submit a dispute online with the RTB."

'I had no idea'

Another owner of an overcrowded house being run by the group said they had "no idea" their house was being used in this manner as they are living abroad and had rented the house privately.

Mattresses and furniture stored in a warehouse in Bray, Co Wicklow
Mattresses and furniture stored in a warehouse in Bray, Co Wicklow

Independent.ie revealed last week how the group running slum-like houses in Dublin are removing bunkbeds, partitions and items of furniture before inspections in an attempt to deceive council staff.

These tactics are being used to mislead inspectors about how many tenants are living in the overcrowded houses.

The investigation also revealed that:

  • up to eight people sleep in some rooms;
  • eight landlords manage over 40 properties across the county;
  • pocketing thousands of cash-in-hand payments every week;
  • one property in Ranelagh was previously the address for over 2000 offshore firms, some of which were investigated by international authorities as they were linked to criminal activities;
  • each property has an appointed 'queen' who is responsible for collecting rent, overseeing housework and management of the bills.

A spokesman for the Residential Landlords Association of Ireland (RLAI), Fintan McNamara, said because of the current housing crisis, it is not surprising that overcrowding is prevalent across the city.

Cllr McNamara said the lack of supply is having a significant impact on the types of property people are sleeping in.

He said the Government's decision to ban bed-sits was a major contributing factor.

"These people are not normal landlords," said Cllr McNamara.

"We would not condone this. I think most people would understand that it is very much in the extreme.

"The Government have banned more than 2,000 units - bed-sits - and I'm not saying it would solve the crisis, but it would definitely help."

Investigation

In correspondence seen by Independent.ie, some members of the group discussed ordering "10 big bags" of cement to pour over leaking sewage before Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council carried out an inspection at a property in south Dublin.

"Get about 10 big bags of cement and cover the sewage around the septic tank so if the council try to take samples they won’t be able to dig through," one member said.

Independent.ie has viewed seven of the houses and found them to be overcrowded - with between 20 and 30 people living in each property and up to eight people sleeping in some rooms.

The properties are located in Blackrock, Rathmines, Dundrum, Shankill, Ranelagh, Rialto, Clontarf and Tallaght.

The group remove mattresses and furniture the night before inspections and store them in warehouses in Bray, Co Wicklow and Drumcondra, Dublin.

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