Monday 14 October 2019

Family of nine's frantic search for new home before being made homeless

A High Court order issued to family to vacate their home could leave them homeless

Gary and Rhona Breen of Ballycanew were hand-delivered a High Court order to vacate the premises
Gary and Rhona Breen of Ballycanew were hand-delivered a High Court order to vacate the premises

Sara Gahan

A North Wexford couple and seven children have been left with no option but to live under the constant threat of being arrested, as they desperately try to find alternative accommodation following an eviction notice last month.

Gary and Rhona Breen from Ballycanew were given the devastating news on July 26 when they were hand delivered a letter from a representative of a Dublin law firm, giving them just seven days' notice to vacate the house. The letter stated that a High Court order for the repossession of the house had been issued against Gary and Rhona's landlord.

Despite efforts to find alternative living arrangements for themselves and their seven children ranging in age from seven to 23, Gary and Rhona are now facing the real possibility of being left homeless. The Breens have been on Wexford County Council's housing list since 2009, but when they contacted the local authority they were told that no suitable housing was available for a family of nine.

They are now facing the horrible reality of being evicted from their house in Ballycanew which has been their home from the last nine years.

The landlord called the couple last month to say the banks seized the property.

'We knew about the trouble the landlord was in since last year but did not think we would be thrown out,' said Rhona. 'Last year, we received a letter from a Real Estate Management group stating they would be managing our rent until a receiver was appointed by the banks.'

Gary and Rhona contacted their solicitor, who said they needed a copy of the deeds before paying rent to management group. Until then, they should continue paying the landlord.

'They never gave us the deeds no matter how many times we asked,' said Rhona. 'We only got them last week when we were served the court order from the appointed receivers.'

There is a possibility the couple could be arrested and possessions seized if still living in the property once it is repossessed. 'We literally have no where else to go, we are on the verge of being homeless,' added Gary.

Gary said Wexford County Council told them they did not have anything available for them. 'No one is telling us what to do or where we should go,' added Gary. 'So when the time comes of being put out, we do not know what we are going to do.'

Gary, who is currently taking heart medication, said he does not need this stress. The family of nine live in a three-bed house.

'Because of our family size, we can't live in a three-bed council house as it is seen as overcrowding,' said Gary.

The children start back school in September and Rhona is afraid of what will happen. They have tried searching for premises to rent through estate agents, but there is non-available.

'I have invested a lot of money into this house,' said Gary. 'Everything from top to bottom is ours and now it will be taken off us.'

Once the couple got the court order, they called HAP (Housing Assistant Payment) straight away to let them know about the change of situation. They signed up for the long-term housing payment support programme last Christmas.

The couple contacted councillors and TDs, but received only a handful of replies.

'Cllr Mary Farrell, Cllr Tony Walsh and Minister Michael D'Arcy replied,' said Gary. 'Cllr Farrell and Minister D'Arcy said they would see what social houses were available. Cllr Walsh suggested we approach the media to highlight the situation and guided us in the direction of people who could help.'

In a statement, John Carley, Director of Services in Housing, said: 'Wexford County Council as a matter of principle and policy do not comment in the public domain on specific housing cases. However it is always the Council's policy to deal with people courteously and fairly.' Wexford County Council advise private rented tenants to check with the RTB or Threshold if they feel they have not been given the correct notice period.

Gorey Guardian