Friday 24 November 2017

Residents ordered to leave their homes over 'fire-safety' concerns

Resident Paul O'Brien
outside the Laurels
apartments in Dundrum,
Dublin yesterday
Resident Paul O'Brien outside the Laurels apartments in Dundrum, Dublin yesterday
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

RESIDENTS of an apartment complex deemed unsafe by fire officers last night said they were "stressed out" at the prospect of having to move out by the weekend.

An order to vacate the 80 apartments at The Laurels, also known as The View, near the Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin was issued after the safety concerns came to light following routine repair work at the complex.

The 130 residents -- some of whom have young children -- will be relocated rent-free to temporary accommodation to allow the safety issues to be rectified.

Fire wardens have been on standby 24 hours a day at the complex for the past two weeks, according to residents who were informed of the safety concerns by email last Thursday and in meetings the following day.

The complex was built by Pierce Construction for the Tuskar Asset Management group, both of which have since gone into receivership.

Dispute

The fire risk at The Laurels follows the long-running dispute 240 residents of Priory Hall in north Dublin have had with developer Tom McFeely.

The issue at the apartment complex, which overlooks Dundrum Town Centre, differs from the long-running Priory Hall dispute in that all residents are renting rather than owner- occupiers.

A statement from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council said the receiver "acting responsibly in consultation with his fire consultants" had contacted the fire authority immediately and, following discussions, decided to relocate the existing tenants.

Discussions are ongoing with all of the parties, who say their objective is to agree the remedial action needed to resolve fire safety issues "in the shortest time frame possible".

It is understood that it may take up to three months before the remedial work, costing €1m, is completed and all tenants can return to their homes.

In the meantime, the rent, together with all utilities, bills, the cost of the move and even some travel expenses, will be covered by the receiver, Kieran Wallace of KPMG, with funds agreed by Lloyds bank in the UK -- which funded the development from its Irish subsidiary, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ireland.

The management agency, Bennetts Property Limited is also assisting tenants to find alternative accommodation tailored to their requirements.

Alternatively, tenants have been given the option of opting out of their year-long lease early.

The complex consists of 80 apartments, of which 68 are occupied by renting tenants, with rents ranging from €1,200 for a two-bed apartment to €1,500 for a three-bed. Yesterday, the development showed all the signs of normal day-to-day living, with clothes airing on balconies and cuddly toys in some of the windows.

A man from a local removal firm had taken the opportunity to post flyers offering his services to tenants.

Tenants said they were shocked to learn of the fire safety breaches and were worried at the prospect of having to move house so quickly.

"I'm really stressed out. I don't even know what to say about it," said one woman, who would not give her name.

"I'm trying to find my own accommodation and I don't know what's going on to be honest."

Another resident described the situation as "a nightmare", saying: "We were given 10 days to move. It's the last thing we want to do."

"You don't expect that something built so recently would be unsafe," said Cyrille Bonnard, who has been living at the complex for the past three years. He said there have been other minor indications that the building works had been "finished cheaply".

The car park floods regularly, while the water feature in the front of the landscaped public area has never worked. "It's just a swimming pool for mosquitoes," he said.

Resident Paul O'Brien said he was very happy with the arrangements being put in place by the management agency, saying: "If they do what they say they will do, it will be just a minor inconvenience."

A spokesperson for the management agency last night said some tenants have opted to stay with friends or family rather than availing of the alternative temporary accommodation.

"The receiver is aware that this is a huge inconvenience for people so he wants to try and be as helpful as possible," said the spokesperson.

Irish Independent

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