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Ernst and Young

Family homeless in eviction after receiver refused council's offer to pay top price for property

The housing department says councils can offer to pay the upper range valuation where tenants are at risk of homelessness.

LOCAL AUTHORITIES CAN offer to buy properties if tenants are at risk of homelessness and are permitted to offer the “upper range” valuation, according to the Department of Housing. 

The comment comes after People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett told the Dáil yesterday of the case of family of four being evicted after the receiver Ernst and Young acting on behalf of a bank refused to buy the property. 

The mother and father and their two children were tenants in the house in the Dublin Rathdown area.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Boyd Barrett outlined what happened to the family: 

“Shortly after 9 a.m., the sheriff and ten private security employees, accompanied by two gardaí, acting on behalf of Ernst & Young receivers and a bank – I am not sure which one – cruelly and ruthlessly evicted by force a family of four in the constituency of the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy [Neale] Richmond.

“This is a family of two working parents with two children who always paid the rent and did nothing wrong, yet Ernst & Young and a bank threw them out.

“I acknowledge I was in contact with the Minister and with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, which requested Ernst & Young, as I did, to allow the council to buy the property, which it was willing to do, but Ernst & Young just said, “No”.

Today, as we speak, that family is sitting in a car, traumatised and in shock.

“The mother cannot speak and the children do not know where they will sleep tonight. It is absolutely disgusting that Ernst & Young and a bank would do that. What will the Government do about it?”

‘Shocking situation’

Responding, Finance Minister Michael McGrath said it sounded like a “shocking situation that should not have happened”.

“I will speak with the Minister on it and we will follow up,” he said. 

“If the council has made an offer to buy the property, that should be facilitated and that is what should happen. We will follow up on this specific case,” said McGrath. 

Speaking to The Journal, Boyd Barrett said the case highlights the lack of protections in place for renters who through no fault of their own are facing eviction.

As part of its measures to mitigate the lifting of the eviction ban, the government has said the tenant in situ scheme will be expanded with the Department of Housing to finance the purchases.

It has set a target for 1,500 properties to be acquired under the tenant in situ scheme, which sees councils step in and purchase a privately rented property where a landlord is looking to sell – representing a significant increase on the past target of 200 properties per year. 

Boyd Barrett said what this episode raises is concerns that you can have a receiver acting for a bank who can decide to just go ahead with an eviction even when an offer from the council, with support from the housing minister, is on the table.  

He said there is “very urgent action” needed to bring in first refusal for local authorities in such cases, stating that right now, there is no obligation on the landlord, receiver or bank to engage with the process at all.

The Journal asked Ernst and Young for a comment yesterday after the Dáil statement, with a spokesperson responding this afternoon, stating: 

“EY is unable to comment on client matters.”

The Housing Department told The Journal that it does not comment on an individual case, but said that “under the Tenant in Situ Scheme all Local Authorities, including Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, are permitted and indeed encouraged to purchase a home with tenants in situ where those tenants are at risk of homelessness and where the landlord is selling the home”. 

“The Local Authority are permitted to purchase the home at market value and the Acquisition Cost Guidelines reference upper and lower cost ranges within each local authority area. A Local Authority may make individual purchases up to the value of the ‘upper range’, without prior Department approval.  

“It is a matter for the Central Bank to put in place a code of conduct for its members, where it deems necessary and appropriate,” said the department. 

A spokesperson for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council responded to TheJournal, stating: 

“While the Council cannot comment on individual cases, we can confirm that we provide support and advice to all households who present to us as being at risk of homelessness.

“We are aware that households in our area have received notice of terminations from their landlords and may be worried or unsure about what to do. Anybody who has received a notice of termination and who has no alternative accommodation can contact our Homeless Section by calling 01 2054700 or emailing”

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