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Frances Kennedy, Stephanie Meehan and Alison Doyle protest outside Leinster House earlier this month. Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
Priory Hall

Cost of temporary housing for Priory Hall residents to top €700,000

Dublin City Council has revealed that providing accommodation for the displaced residents of the unsafe complex will cost over €700,000.

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL (DCC) has pledged to continue to cover the cost of temporary housing for Priory Hall residents until 3 February, 2012.

So far, the council has spent €570,000 on accommodation and other services for the families forced to leave their Donaghmede homes in October because of safety concerns.

A further €135,000 will be needed to ensure temporary housing is available up to 3 February next year, the Council told occupants in a communication yesterday.

However, the council is appealing a decision by the High Court which gives it a responsibility to pay these temporary housing costs. That case has priority status in the Supreme Court and a hearing is due on 19 January.

Regardless of the verdict from that hearing, accommodation costs for the Priory Hall residents will be paid until 3 February, the DCC has confirmed.

Paying Double

Despite the promise, residents are still concerned that the Supreme Court will absolve the council from paying the costs after this date.

The dispute about who pays for the temporary accommodation has left residents fearful about their future.

“If Dublin City Council is successful in their upcoming appeal, the homeowners of Priory Hall will be left with no choice but to default on our mortgages. It is simply impossible for us to pay both rent and a mortgage,” a spokesperson for the residents’ committee said.

We have been forced from our homes through no fault of our own and our futures remain in doubt. We call on the Government to intervene now before we are forced to default on our mortgages.”

Those living in the complex were evacuated in October when the council ruled that the development breached fire safety regulations.

Commenting on the cost to the State of their current housing, the residents’ committee added that they do not want to rely on the council but have been forced to do so by the “failure of the government and local authorities”.

The developer of the complex, Thomas McFeely, was sentenced in November to jail for three months and fined €1 million for contempt of court orders relating to his development. The judge in the case later granted McFeely a reprieve against the sentence.

Temporary housing

On the 17 October this year, about 256 people moved from the complex into hotels in Dublin on the orders of the countil. This number included 87 children. In early November, about 78 adults and 25 children were transferred from these hotels to NAMA and Voluntary Housing properties.

The residents’ committee claims that the DCC is paying full-market rent rates to the agency. In a meeting with City Manager John Tierney last month homeowners asked whether a discount was negotiated with NAMA as numerous families were being housed in the same developments.

Spokesperson Graham Usher said that the council confirmed that no discount was worked out with the so-called bad bank.

Seven families, including five children, remain in hotels across Dublin and will not be accommodated elsewhere until after Christmas.

Cost of repairs

Residents have also expressed their surprise and dismay at the initial estimate of the cost of refurbishing the complex to make it safe to live in.

The council has said that “at this stage” the best estimate is €7.3 million or €39,000 per unit.

It says it has entered talks with the apartments’ owners and financial institutions to try and facilitate the remediation of the complex as soon as possible.

However, residents have once more expressed their inability to pay such huge costs on top of their already substantial mortgages.

We are shocked at the size of the initial estimate and the scale of the defects to our homes. This is a clear indication of the extent of the failures of government legislation and Dublin City Council’s inability to carry out their duties as a building control authority.

None of the homeowners are in a position to pay the huge costs involved in rebuilding our homes. We have already paid for our homes once. We cannot afford to pay again for the failure of others. All we ask for is the safe, properly built homes we believed we had bought.

Meanwhile, Usher also told that the residents are exempt from the imminent household charge. Under the legislation allowing for the charge, the property must be habitable on 1 January, 2012.

In pictures: Six weeks on, Priory Hall is a ghost town>

Read more: Priory Hall residents demand meeting with Minister for Environment>

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