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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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Cork residents facing mass evictions say fire safety issues can be fixed without them moving

A new report has suggested they may not have to leave their homes.

Tenants in the Leeside Apartments are standing firm.
Tenants in the Leeside Apartments are standing firm.
Image: Google Maps

RESIDENTS LIVING IN a Cork city apartment block need not be evicted from their homes to make way for fire safety works, according to a new engineer’s report.

The Leeside Anti-Eviction Group has been locked in a dispute with the fund which owns the apartment block after they were informed they would have to leave.

Lugus Capital says a structural survey of the building found that fire safety works need to be carried out and that it intends to begin the €3 million works this month.

“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,” the company says.

The fund says there are 22 residential tenancies in the apartment block and that those who have been told to leave have been given adequate notice.

Residents accept that fire safety works are required but claim the work is being used as a way of getting them out of the block so rents can be increased.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry has been acting on behalf of the residents and commissioned a structural survey into the block which was published yesterday.

The report by Kieran Spitere of Kieran Spitere Consulting Engineers looked at fire safety standards in the building and found that ”significant work” needed to be carried out to bring it up to scratch.

The report described these works as “urgent” and pointed to 14 separate assessments or improvements that are needed.

However, the report stated that it may be possible for these works to carried out while the apartments are still occupied, or while the residents are moved temporarily.

The apartment block itself consists of three separate buildings housing a total of 68 units, many of which are now vacant or soon will be.

PastedImage-65044 A protest in favour of the residents held in Cork last month. Source: Facebook/LeesideAntiEviction

Lugus Capital says that 41 student leases ended last month.

It is for this reason that the report states that the residents remaining may only be required to temporarily move to a vacant unit while the works are ongoing.

“I recognise that the full extent of the work necessary may not be apparent until some further opening up works are undertaken. Depending on what comes to light at that time it may even be possible for works to be undertaken on individual apartments while these remain occupied,” the report states.

I fully appreciate also however that the contractors might well be reluctant to become involved in the work in those circumstances. Even then however provided there is a will it would not in my opinion involve huge disruption for tenants to move temporarily (perhaps for a week or so) to a nearby unit (perhaps in a different block) to allow works be undertaken.

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Two of the Leeside residents and spokespeople for the anti-eviction group, Aimee O’Riordan and Gaston Behal, say the report shows there’s no reason why they have to leave

We want these fire safety improvements done as a matter of urgency.  But this report clearly shows that they can be completed without recourse to evictions.  The notices to quit should be withdrawn and the owners should enter into talks with the residents’ campaign group to make arrangements for the fire safety work to take place. 

Speaking following the publication of the engineer’s report, Deputy Barry says it has hardened the resolved of the residents.

“These residents are not going to accept evictions.  A big number of ordinary people in this city will support them in taking that stance,” he said.

Read: ‘Social housing should not just be for people with low incomes – this creates ghettos’ >

Read: Housing ‘passport’ scheme could give those on city housing lists the option to move to rural Ireland >

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Rónán Duffy

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