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Dublin: 3 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
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Column: Our landlord went into receivership – now we’re in limbo

Her building crumbling and in legal limbo, Alsa Campbell writes about how tenants are finding themselves at the sharp end of landlords’ financial troubles.

Image: Charleston's TheDigitel via Flickr

THERE HAS BEEN endless discussion of the property market in the last number of years but very little of the rental market until recently. Young couples like myself and my partner are being encouraged by some to rent and bide our time while the Government are incentivising buying a property as long as you do it in 2012.

My greatest sympathy during the economic turmoil has always gone out to those that were about 10 years older than me who had children in school and were burdened with a mortgage. I have always counted myself lucky, that, as yet, I had no dependents, loans or a mortgage. In saying that, I feel one group of people have not been considered – tenants. The Government has given little thought to those living in rented accommodation and are suffering the fall-out when their landlords go bankrupt.

In February, a letter was delivered (by hand) informing us that our landlord had gone into receivership and our building was now in the ownership of an Irish bank. From day one, our tenancy was thrown into confusion as we questioned the delay in informing us (the date on the letter differed from the delivery by about two weeks). We were assured that our tenancy would continue as normal, and, to some degree, it has. I was told that my deposit was the landlord’s business and that I would have to pursue him to get it returned. He is not responding to my attempts to contact him.

As it is, living in our flat is now just a little more complicated, a little more stressful and always unsure. But we’re the lucky ones.

‘Tenants are being evicted without notice’

Some initial research assured me that there were many others like us with the same complaints. Cold comfort really but surely the Government would have to take notice? I read that many tenants were being evicted without much notice by receivers as they were not protected legally in the same way as before. This is something Threshold is urging the Government to change.

For us, our ‘new landlord’ is difficult to pin down for repairs and doesn’t care about the upkeep of the building we call home. The communal areas are not being maintained – with a dangerously rotted banister on the staircase, a fire alarm system that isn’t working and a garden that is overgrown and unusable. We’re also not registered with the PRTB despite numerous requests.

Repairs are a battle to get resolved as ‘cash flow’ from the bank ‘takes time’. At one point, a serious repair that was required in our flat took an entire month to be resolved, affecting our standard of living. We have no lease and are in limbo as to what our rights are. An email asking for information remains unacknowledged by Threshold, the National Housing Organisation, most likely because they are receiving hundreds of emails from people like us everyday.

Why don’t I just move? I’d like to and I will but it has been my home and financially, moving wasn’t an option, but we’re hoping that will change in the next few months. I urge the Government to better protect tenants in situations where the landlord goes bankrupt.

Tenants need to be afforded rights and be offered protection. If they must be evicted, they should be given the notice they are entitled to. If they are to continue as tenants of the bank, their standard of living, which they continue to pay for, must be maintained. The bank must be held to the same standards as landlords, ensuring the standard of living of tenants, maintenance of the communal areas of the building and carrying out of repairs in a timely fashion. I believe that everyone is suffering as a result of the downturn but the Government must protect those most at risk including those relying on the banks on landlords.

Alsa Campbell’s name has been changed.

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Alsa Campbell

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