Residents Told to Leave Homes Owned by Investment Firms

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Jack Power
Irish Times

Tenants of a south Co Dublin apartment complex have objected to being told to leave their homes by the agent for the two global investment firms that own the block.

PwC, which is acting as receiver for the companies that own St Helen’s Court in Dún Laoghaire, has issued the 17 families and tenants who live in the block with notices to vacate their homes so the complex can be refurbished. They will have an opportunity to re-rent an apartment after the work has been completed, according to the receiver’s letter.

Residents are unconvinced about the reasons they are being asked to move. Dublin landlords can normally increase tenants’ rent by only 4 per cent a year, but that limit does not apply after substantial refurbishment.

One St Helen’s Court tenant, Derek Cowley, claimed that the property’s owners recently proposed to raise his rent from €1,000 a month to €1,350 and that fellow tenants faced similar increases. He said the landlord’s agent withdrew his rent rise after he contested it with the Residential Tenancies Board.

“We’re not being treated like normal tenants. There are going to be people homeless from this,” Mr Cowley said. “This morning there was a woman crying, with three kids, who are all in local schools, worrying where they are going to live. It’s just not fair.

The PwC letter said the landlord “intends to substantially refurbish or renovate the dwelling”. The planned work includes recarpeting and retiling the apartments, repairing superficial damage to walls, replastering the interiors of the properties, upgrading all mechanical and electrical installations, appliances, cables and fuse boxes, and upgrading all sanitary and heating installations.

Richard Boyd Barrett, the Solidarity-People Before Profit TD for Dún Laoghaire, claimed that the planned works were a way to sidestep rent-control legislation. He said he had asked Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to intervene and to close any potential legal loopholes.

PwC and the two international firms involved in the investment fund that owns the properties were not able to be reached for comment.

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