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Tuesday 22 January 2019

'It's not worth the hassle' - woman on 'nightmare' experience of being a Dublin landlord

  • Mary Dunleavy and her wife Yvonne have been renting four properties in Dublin for the past decade
  • Speaks out about the challenges of renting in the capital
  • Retired couple had been living in one of their properties - but now have to move out in order to pay off their debts
Mary with her wife Yvonne
Mary with her wife Yvonne
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A landlord has spoken out about the challenges of renting saying it has mentally, physically and financially destroyed her.

Mary Dunleavy and her wife Yvonne have been renting four properties in Dublin for the past decade.

Due to the recession, Mary said three of her properties are now in negative equity, which means the value of her properties have fallen below the mortgage.

"I don't know why anybody would want to be a landlord in Dublin today. It's not worth the hassle at all," Mary told Independent.ie.

The retired couple, who have two sons and five grandchildren, had been living in one of their properties in Templeogue, but now have to move out in order to pay off their debts.

"We fell victim to the recession like everyone else and we have been through hell. Yvonne was struck with sepsis last year and almost died so she can't work and I've retired so that I can look after her.

"Our finances have taken a huge hit and our only option is to sell our home, because our other three properties are in negative equity and we can't sell them."

Mary said she was forced to go to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) after her tenant refused to move out of her property.

"We gave our tenant notice that we would be moving into the property but it has been a massive ordeal trying to get him out of the house.

"We gave him notice last February and he still hasn't moved out. We went to the RTB and it was agreed that our tenant would move out at the end of November but our house is being sold on October 30 so myself and my wife are going to be homeless for four weeks."

Mary said that her only option now is to sleep on a blow-up mattress in her son's dining room.

"The buyers on the house in Templeogue have already had to wait four months before moving in and they're not going to wait any longer. We also have to put our furniture somewhere else and that is going to cost a fortune.

"The house is our property. We're paying the mortgage on it. But now we're going to be homeless for five weeks. If we had the money, we would have gone to court but that would take another few months at least.

"We're very grateful that we do have a place to go eventually. There are a lot of homeless people who have no options."

Mary said that there is no protection for landlords and that legislation is centred around the tenant.

"The RTB is disproportionately unfair. It is aimed towards protecting tenants and I agree with that, but landlords shouldn't be excluded altogether.

"There's a hatred towards landlords at the moment. We're portrayed as being evil and money grabbers. We're trying to make a living too. It's not worth it being a landlord in Dublin anymore."

The retired social worker said that over the past ten years she has had many problems with tenants.

"We had one tenant and the house was left in very poor condition. Even the windows were broken. We took a case to the RTB and I was awarded €7,000 but sure I never got a penny.

"Landlords are left to pursue the award or bring it to court which we couldn't afford. I'll never get that money. It cost me nearly €10,000 to fix the house up after.

"Once the other houses are out of negative equity I'm going to sell them off too. I don't want to be a landlord anymore. It's just not worth the hassle."

Margaret McCormack, a spokesperson for the Irish Property Owners Association told Independent.ie that more needs to be done to protect landlords.

"While the RTB is neutral, the legislation is very complex and difficult and it's very time-consuming and frustrating for both parties.

"Another option is to go through the courts but it's very costly and you might not get a penny at the end of it. Most landlords are in debt because it's normal to borrow to purchase a property."

Ms McCormack said that landlords are portrayed as being villains in today's housing market.

"We dealt with the case of an elderly landlord whose wife became ill and they needed money to adapt their home to suit their needs. He told the tenant that they were going to sell the property so they could use that money to fix their home and his wife could come home but the tenant refused. It took a long time and meanwhile he couldn't bring his wife home and she was very upset because she wanted to be at home.

"It was very sad."

Ms McCormack called for more protection for landlords.

"Landlords are losing properties every day because of rent arrears. They need more help in today's housing market."

In a statement to Independent.ie the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) said they do not comment on individual cases.

However, they said they provide a range of services to landlords.

"Our role is to be fair and impartial in the handling of all cases. We cannot be on the side of either tenants or landlords and we enforce the law with regard to tenancies while offering a much better value, and more efficient alternative, to court action for both landlords and tenants to resolve disputes.

"In 2017, we dealt with 170,000 calls, with 66pc of these from landlords. We received nearly 6,000 applications for dispute resolution services. In addition, 35pc of cases taken were by landlords and in cases where there were damages awarded,  in 53pc these were awarded to the landlord and 47pc to tenants.

"The average waiting time for an adjudication in 2017 was 14 weeks . As mentioned above, the RTB offer a free mediation service and the average waiting time for this service was 8 weeks in 2017."

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