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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
The tenants of the apartments came together to support each other. Agnieszka and her son are on the far right.
Housing Crisis

Swords tenants resisting eviction by €6bn real estate fund include kids and woman who has cancer

“We know now, that they can’t just put us out on the street without a court order,” one mum living in the apartments said.

FAMILIES IN SWORDS, Co Dublin, who are being evicted from their apartments by a company owned by a real estate group with €6bn in assets, are supporting each other in resisting their evictions. 

Several of the affected families have young children. One family is facing eviction alongside a 65-year-old woman that they share their apartment with, who has been diagnosed with cancer

At a rally on Malahide’s Main Street last week, that was intended to get the attention of Housing Minister Darragh O’ Brien, some of the affected tenants asked locals to support their efforts to remain in their rented homes. 

Agnieszka, a barber from Poland, brought her ten-year-old son Adam along to the protest. It was a difficult day for the pair, as it was actually their eviction date, and marked the start of them overholding (which means staying in a rental property past your eviction date). 

The mum of one has lived in the same apartment in Applewood, Swords, since 2016. It is owned by Home Club Limited, one of many subsidiary companies owned by the LRC Group -  an international real estate investment and management fund that has been steadily buying up property in Dublin, and has become one of the city’s biggest landlords. 

Agnieszka’s is one of seven families that has received an eviction notice, but the notice period she says she was given of just 28 days is unusually short. 

She says it has made it impossible for her to find somewhere else for her and her son to live in the current market. 

“We have tried our best. I am now appealing the eviction notice to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), because the notice period is so short.

“I rent through the the Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) scheme, which makes it even more difficult to find another landlord willing to rent to us,” she said. 

She said that she has found it difficult to get her head around housing legislation in Ireland, but she is now getting support from CATU, the tenants’ union.

“It’s hard for me, because my English is not so good, I work in a Polish barbershop,” she said. 

Her son Adam goes to school in Swords, and has spent his whole life in Ireland. He said that he does not want to have to move schools, and that he is worried about his mum, and their apartment.

Jekaterina, another tenant in the apartment complex, told The Journal that after 24 of August, she will have to overhold too, as she and her son also have nowhere else to go in Ireland.

Home Club Limited, the subsidiary company that issued Jekaterina’s eviction notice, didn’t have to give a reason, which makes it a no-fault eviction. 

This is because she has a part 4 tenancy that was created prior to 10 June last year, when the Government made changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. 

Before these changes were made, part 4 tenancies ran in six-year cycles, and gave landlords the option to terminate them at the end of the cycle without giving any reason. 

Now, these tenancies will automatically become ones of unlimited duration, but this doesn’t apply to the long-term tenants living in these apartment complexes in Swords, because their agreements were in place before the law was changed. 

Ollie Power, the People Before Profit representative for Swords, who is involved in organising support for the tenants locally, said that there are actions that could be taken to protect them. 

“The first thing the Housing Minister could do is reinstate the Eviction Ban. He could at least follow up with this landlord and implore them to change course. 

“These are all long-term tenants. One woman is 65 and has a cancer diagnosis. Where is she going to go? Some have lived in these apartments for well over 10 years. One family has three children under the age of 10. It is unthinkable that seven families would be put out just so a corporate landlord could collect a few hundred euros more in rent each year,” he said. 

Power added that he believes the changes made to Part 4 tenancies actually made these families vulnerable. 

“At the end of the six-year cycle, landlords now have an opportunity to get rid of their current tenants without giving any reason, and reletting properties for higher rent, which they won’t have in the future. You have to imagine that this is what is happening in some cases. Since these tenants started speaking out, others with other landlords have as well. 

“This group of people are also mostly immigrants. English is not their first language. They didn’t know about overholding, or the ins and outs of the legislation here, so they were already on the back foot when it came to resisting these eviction notices,” Power said.

Leonardo Lima, his wife Vida and their 8-year-old son Oliver also live in a complex in Swords where a subsidiary of the LRC Group owns most of the apartments, including theirs. 

Vida said that the family initially got an eviction notice last year, but the family eventually learned this summer that they were successful in having it overturned by the RTB. 

The eviction notice was successfully appealed because, amongst other factors, Leonardo had taken a case against the landlord who he claimed had failed to uphold the maintenance of the property, which was heard before an RTB tribunal. 

Some of the issues included the lifts not working, the complex not being secure, which led to a man living in the underground carpark, rubbish accumulating in different areas, and the intercom not working. 

He initially complained about maintenance problems in the complex in 2020, and eventually the RTB ruled in his favour, ordering the landlord to pay over €5,000 ein damages. 

WhatsApp Image 2023-08-17 at 19.07.21 Leonardo Lima and his wife Vida, with their 8-year-old son Oliver.

Leonardo said that one of the reasons why the family’s eviction notice was overturned was because they have another case ongoing with the landlord. 

Vida said that that the family were initially scared when they got the notice. 

“It came in May of last year. We have been here since 2016, and we have a young son, and they were giving us just 28 days, there was no way we were going to be able to find somewhere. 

“After 28 days, we got a letter that gave us a warning, and said they would come to collect the keys on the 21st of July. We were so scared, we thought they could kick us out into the street. We know now that we can appeal, that we can overhold and keep paying rent, and they cannot kick us out without a court order.

“No one wants to be in that position, but it is really impossible for us to find an affordable place to live in this area right now,” she explained. 

Aivaras, who is originally from Lithuania, came to the rally in support of his ex-wife and his 9-year-old son, who live in one of the landlord’s apartments. 

“They haven’t gotten an eviction notice yet, but they are long-term tenants too, and I am worried about what is going to happen. My son goes to school in the area. Some families have already had to leave, and others are in this stressful position of staying.

“They were my neighbours and friends for years, so I am here to show support,” he said. 

On 24 August, the families will be holding a solidarity rally at the apartments to support Jekaterina on her eviction date. 

The Journal has asked the LRC Group for comment. 

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