Thursday 23 November 2017

Exclusive: Undercover probe exposes property firm overcrowding houses with up to 70 people - 'House could have burned to the ground'

  • Rooms filled with bunk beds
  • Electrician claimed one house could have 'burned to the ground'
  • Rent 'lower standard' houses to foreign nationals
  • Tenants claim they have no lease and are paying rent cash-in-hand
  • 'People had yellow fungal diseases on feet as only two showers'
The rooms at The Pines, Lehaunstown, Cabinteely. Photo: Independent.ie
The rooms at The Pines, Lehaunstown, Cabinteely. Photo: Independent.ie
The advert for the house on Daft.ie
The advertisement which is posted on a weekly basis in Facebook rental groups
The advert for the house on Daft.ie
One of the rooms which sleeps four people and has no wardrobes
Bunk beds in one of the rooms which sleeps 10 people
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A PROPERTY management company in Dublin is renting a number of houses across the capital to up to 70 people at a time, with up to 15 people in some rooms, Independent.ie can reveal.

The owner of two properties implicated said he leases the houses to the company and allows them "to do what they like with them", insisting "there’s no breach of regulations".

But undercover recordings by Independent.ie reveal tenants have no written leases and a man, who works with the company, claimed the overcrowded houses are rented to foreign nationals because "[with] their way of living… they’d agree to it a lot more".

This man uses the name 'Dyl O'Reilly' to advertise properties on rental pages on Facebook.

One house, located in Lehaunstown, Cabinteely, has up to 70 people living there, with only two showers in the house.

"It's not great, I wouldn't even show it to you [as you're Irish]," ‘Dyl O’Reilly’ responded, when asked if it would be possible to rent the house in Cabinteely for €200 per month.

The basement of the house in Cabinteely
The basement of the house in Cabinteely

Standard of housing

A former tenant described the living conditions in that house as "disgraceful and dangerous".

"When I moved in, my room was in the basement. The other tenants were like, 'You do know the ceiling above you has completely collapsed twice during parties?' and were like, 'Oh you have a window, lucky you'.

"People all had yellow fungal diseases on their feet as there were only two showers at the time for the whole house, and you wouldn’t have washed a rat in them."

The advertisement which is posted on a weekly basis in Facebook rental groups
The advertisement which is posted on a weekly basis in Facebook rental groups

Jordan Rhodes (21), originally from Newcastle, lived in the house for two months due to "desperation".

He claimed that when an electrician called to the house one day, he advised the tenants that if he hadn’t fixed a problem with the fusebox, the house “could have been burned to the ground”.

“When I moved in, there was around 40 people living there, mostly South American and Eastern European. When I left, there was around 70 after they put more bunk beds in the basement. There are extension leads all over the house because there are so many people.

“I was told that the house was cleaned 3-4 times per week and that bin bags and toilet roll would be provided at all times, which of course wasn’t the case.

The advert for the house on Daft.ie
The advert for the house on Daft.ie

“With the kitchen being shared between 70 people, preparing a meal was a long forgotten dream.

“On top of this, there was only two washing machines, only one of which worked for about fifty percent of my stay.”

Two rooms attached together, with 15 beds
Two rooms attached together, with 15 beds

The house has three floors and is located in a rural area outside Dublin city.

The basement has been converted into a room which sleeps up to 15 people, and all bedrooms have a minimum of five people in them.

Another room, located on the ground floor, has five sets of bunk beds and is for females only.

One of the rooms which sleeps four people and has no wardrobes
One of the rooms which sleeps four people and has no wardrobes

These former tenants confirmed the director and secretary of the company ran the house while they lived there and Mr Rhodes said ‘Dyl O’Reilly’ was acting as property manager during his tenancy and refused to return all of his deposit.

He also claimed that 'Dyl O'Reilly' knocked €50 off the rent if a person brought a new tenant into the house.

Independent.ie met with ‘Dyl O’Reilly’ to view a property in Dundrum which he was also advertising.

The Dundrum house had a double-room available for €800 a month and two rooms with four single beds in them, with each bed coming at a price of €350 per month, meaning the landlord would be collecting €3,600 in rent.

In the Cabinteely house, with up to 70 tenants paying €200 each month, the company would potentially be collecting circa €14,000 in rent - or €168,000 per year.

Another property managed by the company, located in the Rathmines area, has between 20 and 40 people living there - all females.

The owner of the property denied any knowledge of this and advised us to take the matter up with the management company.

One of the tenants said because the cost of renting in the city centre is so high, they are "left with no option" but to live in such conditions.

There are also houses located on the Howth Road which are rented under similar circumstances.

The properties located in Cabinteely and Rathmines are not registered with the Residential Tenancies Board.

It is not known exactly how many houses the company is managing across Dublin.

Ownership

The company is run by a father and son - the father acting as director and the son acting as secretary.

The son has denied any involvement in the properties viewed by Independent.ie and claimed, that as of two weeks ago, the company has been passed over to new owners.

At the time of writing, the Companies Registration Office confirmed to Independent.ie that no application has been made for a change of directorship.

He also denied that 'Dyl O'Reilly' worked with the company.

He said: “Even though we had some business with those properties before, I was never managing the properties above you mentioned”.

He stated the previous business involved “consulting”.

Breach of regulations

Tenants in the Cabinteely house claimed they would not get their deposit back unless they found someone to take their place in the home, and they subsequently use portals like Daft.ie to find their replacements.

The advertisements claim there are only nine people living in the house.

Martin Clancy of Daft.ie said that any advertisements which give out false information should be reported:

"As we are a property advertising portal, we don't deal with the properties directly. Any ads that are reported to us that are in breach of our house rules we edit or remove from the website."

A spokesperson for the RTB said that this many people renting one house is a serious health and safety risk.

"It is extremely worrying if the report that up to seventy people are living in a house is correct. While the 2004 Act does not set out precisely the number of persons than can reside at any one time in a property, it is generally expected that the most that could share a room, depending on its size, is two.

"Consequently, if the number is correct this poses serious health and safety concerns for those tenants in the event of a fire.

"Having checked the Register we can confirm that two of these tenancies are not registered.

"Given the serious health and safety issues raised, the property concerned could not possibly comply with the Housing Regulations 2009 for the provision of proper light and ventilation, cooking and hygienic food storage, and fire safety measures.

"In light of the information received, the RTB will write immediately to the landlord setting out our concerns for the welfare of the tenants, and for the number of tenants in the property which does not conform with the registration of the dwelling.

"In addition, we will write to Dublin City Council, asking them to arrange, as a matter of urgency, an inspection of the dwellings."

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News