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'They have nowhere to go': Leeside Apartments residents continue to fight mass evictions

The Residential Tenancies Board recently sided with the fund that owns the building.

Aimee O'Riordan said she will not leave her home.
Aimee O'Riordan said she will not leave her home.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

RESIDENTS FACING EVICTION from their rental accommodation in Cork city have appealed to the government for an urgent change in legislation to help them stay in their homes.

A group of residents at the Leeside Apartments in Cork have been battling with Lugus Capital, the fund which owns the apartment block, after they were informed they would have to leave.

The fund has previously said the apartments are not in compliance with fire certificates and the refurbishment is needed to bring the building up to modern standards.

Residents appealed to the Residential Tenancies Board, but the board sided with Lugus Capital, agreeing that the work was necessary. Under current legislation, a landlord can require all tenants to vacate the property if substantial refurbishment is required.

There are around 20 residents who are refusing to leave and they have appealed to the fund to allow them to temporarily move into one of the other blocks so their apartments can be brought up to standard and they can move back in.

The Leeside Apartments are undergoing a €4.4 million refurbishment. Source: Sean Murray/TheJournal.ie

Speaking to reporters in Dublin today, resident Aimee O’Riordan said her first interaction with the fund was receiving a notice to quit, cellotaped to her door.

“Of course it was a very distressing time, I didn’t know what the future held I was kind of just getting on about my day.”

O’Riordan lives in the apartment with her five-year-old son Alex.

The pressure and stress of this situation is interfering with every part of my life. Alex knows something is going on. The other day he asked me: ‘why do the men want us to leave?’

She said there is “little or no alternative accommodation” available and the suitable properties she has looked at have “sky-high” rents.

O’Riordan said residents are appealing the RTB decision and even if they lose, she will not be leaving her home voluntarily.

“If they come to the door and tell me time is up and I’ve nowhere to go, I’m staying.”

Solidarity TD Mick Barry said if these evictions are allowed to go ahead, they will constitute he “biggest single surge in homelessness” in Cork city since the current housing crisis began.

“They have nowhere to go,” he said.

“The government must act. The Housing Minister needs to urgently bring forward legislation which blocks eviction of this type.”

Fr Peter McVerry said the majority of people who are becoming homeless now are coming from the private rental sector. Source: Leah Farrell

Housing campaigner Fr Peter McVerry echoed Barry’s call for a stop to evictions – he suggested the government could put in place a ban for three years and then reassess the situation.

“The most urgent problem today is preventing more and more people becoming homeless. The vast majority of those who become homeless originate from the private rented sector. The government has no plans to prevent evictions from the private rented sector.”

He pointed out that many of the government’s homeless solutions also involve the use of private sector accommodation, which he said would not provide long-term security for families.

Miniser for Housing Eoghan Murphy was questioned by Mick Barry in the Dail on the issue. He said the RTB was an independent body and that it had ruled substantial refurbishment was needed.

However, he said he will be bringing forward measures in the next Residential Tenancies Board bill in relation to substantial refurbishment “to protect tenants who are being abused in those instances”.

The Dáil was suspended when Barry shouted at the Minister and refused to take his seat.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

In a statement Lugus Capital said Cork’s Leeside Apartments are undergoing a €4.4 million refurbishment.

“Leeside Apartments are currently not in compliance with their fire certificates, so the refurbishment is necessary not only to bring the building up to modern standards but also to maintain the safety of the residents.

“Lugus Capital acquired the building at the start of October 2017, and as part of their acquisition process, they carried out a full structural survey and fire safety inspection.

“Currently, there are 16 residential tenancies at Leeside Apartments. All residential tenants have been issued notices, with full notice periods corresponding to the length of their tenancy. The landlord is fully complying with the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.”

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