‘You Can Look Into The Morality Of It… But’

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Fisherman’s Quay, Grove Island, Limerick city; Kersten Mehl of KMPM

You’ll recall the Tyrrelstown amendment.

It was added to the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016 before Christmas.

It had originally proposed that where a landlord proposes to sell 20 or more units in a development – within six months – the sales would be conditional on existing tenants being able to remain in the property unless there were exceptional circumstances.

During a Seanad debate on this amendment, the number was changed from 20 to five.

But on foot of advice from the Attorney General, the Minister for Housing Simon Coveney  increased this figure, from five to 10.

Readers may also wish to note how director of advocacy Focus Ireland Mike Allen in January stated that “a third of families who are becoming homeless in Dublin are becoming homeless because their landlord has been forced to sell up“.

Further to this…

Last week, it was reported in Limerick Leader that up to 14 families renting apartments in Fisherman’s Quay, Grove Island, Limerick city are facing eviction after they received letters on Good Friday informing them that they had to leave their properties by different dates this summer.

The letters were issued by Kersten Mehl Property Management which has managed the complex for the past eight years. KMPM sent the letters on behalf of Munster Pensioner Trustees Ltd – a group which intends to sell the property.

This morning, RTÉ’s Brian O’Connell reported on the matter during the Today with Seán O’Rourke Show. He reported that around tenants in eight properties are affected.

He explained:

“Anywhere up to about 10,11, 12 tenants could be affected in those properties. The notices were served by the new landlords of these properties. They are the Munster Pension Trustees Limited. So, at some point, these properties went into receivership. They were sold, this pension trust bought the properties. They bought, I understand, the 14 properties in a bundle for about €1.1million, I work out that’s about €75,000-€78,000 per property. So, now they’ve decided to sell eight of the 14 properties. They’re probably going to get on the open market between €100,000 and €120,000 for those properties and that will obviously reduce then significantly their outlay on the six properties that they’re going to hold on to. And this decision to sell is impacting on a  mix of tenants I met from young families to pensioners.”

Mr O’Connell’s report included interviews with some of the tenants who have received these letters and Kersten Mehl, who has 40 years’ experience in property letting and whose company currently manages more than 900 properties across Limerick.

From the interview with Mr Mehl…

Kirsten Mehl: “We’re told there’s families, right? I looked at, who’s registered here among the eight units. So, you’ve got two couples, I don’t think they’ve children, you’ve two single people, so that’s three, and of the other five, they’re registered in a single person, only one person. So it’s not a question of turfing out families, but…”

O’Connell: “But you’re still turfing people out?”

Mehl: “No, we’re asking people. Basically, it’s fully within the rights of the owners to say we want the property and we want to sell it. Right? No tenant, no, no, let me finish this, Brian. No tenant, right, has a guaranteed right and was ever promised a guaranteed right by any agent or any owner that they could stay there as long as they wanted. You can look into the morality of it, right? But…”

O’Connell: “But you don’t think there’s anything being done wrong here, in terms of the morality of it, do you?”

Mehl:Absolutely not and I’ll tell you why. Because, like, there’s hundreds of thousands of investors who had their mortgages increased while the market was retreating. I’ve no problem with the tenant legislation, I’ve no problem with the improvement in housing standards but there is no morality, right, in the way investors have been treated. I actually think that we’re on the cusp of large-scale selling. Now…”

O’Connell: “If it was your granddaughter in here, with her child, and got this letter in the door last week, you wouldn’t be happy about it.”

Mehl: “There’s plenty of things I’m not happy about but you know what…”

O’Connell: “But do you think it would be right then, in that instance, that someone who’d made a commitment, maintained the property here and suddenly, because somebody wants to make a few bob, and has bought into it, bought an asset that was in receivership probably, and now they can flip it, to hell with the tenants?”

Mehl: “But, like, there is other properties out there..”

O’Connell:But isn’t the problem that there isn’t?

Mehl: “There is because I tell you what. Since January, I have probably sent out 40 notices plus for individual owners that are selling. Owners are now departing the market, landlords are departing the market in a fairly significant scale because, you know what, the equity, we’re getting near the situation where they’re break-even and they’re out the door. Well, I would expect if it was my daughter and my granddaughter, I would expect my daughter to find alternative accommodation.”

O’Connell: “I’m going to be meeting some of the tenants now and you can imagine what they’re going to be saying. A lot of them are saying they’re not going anywhere.”

Mehl: “Well, that’s fine, right? That’s there decision and then the investors have to make their decision but like that’s taking the law into their own hands, ok? There’s law there. If they want to change the law, they can change the law. But I guarantee you one thing, you bring in long tenure in this country, in the rented sector right now and you have a bigger crisis then we already have.”

O’Connell: “And why not sell them with the tenant in situ, as is done with commercial property, we see it all the time, tenants not affected.”

Mehl: “I can answer that question because that’s a very good example you’ve given. Because a property is enhanced in commercial when there’s a tenant because you’ve a guaranteed rental flow but in residential, ok, that’s not necessarily the case because potentially you’re always looking for an owner-occupier.”

O’Connell: “What happens if the tenants dig their heels in here? Are you going to be down here trying to pull people out of their homes?

Mehl: “Course I’m not. It’s not my job, that’s a sheriff’s job, ok but like, you know, I’m 40 years in the business, I don’t know what’s going to happen here but I know where I am in this situation, as in, I’ve given the notice and after that, well things just go flow from here.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: “Tenants Are Completely Unaware But They’re At Huge Risk Of Being Evicted”

15 thoughts on “‘You Can Look Into The Morality Of It… But’

      1. Anne

        I just read over the transcript there.. Sorry but he’s thick as poo and a bit of a lowlife.

        “You can look into the morality of it.. but I don’t. I’d sell my grandmother for a few bob, basically.”

        Why are these types given air time at all?

        ” So, you’ve got two couples, I don’t think they’ve children, you’ve two single people, so that’s three, and of the other five, they’re registered in a single person, only one person. So it’s not a question of turfing out families, but…” Single people are fair game is it? Lowlife.

  1. Fact Checker

    Tenants’ rights are utterly lousy in Ireland when it comes to security of tenure. The recent legal changes would have been FAR better directed on providing greater tenure protection than the caps on rental increases. Also there are big issues with access to social housing for childless people, mainly men.

    Anyway, I cannot see why 21 people being given notice to leave from the same building is more outrageous and worthy of legal protection than 21 people given notice to leave from 21 separate properties, or indeed 12 from the one property in this case.

    1. anne

      Of course people being evicted en masse from the same building is not more outrageous than the same number of people being evicted separately…it’s the same upheaval on people’s lives…but it makes news and is bad publicity when people are evicted together. They tend to organise too when evicted en masse.

  2. Diddy

    As of the end of April 2017. Anyone getting evicted from their apartments in any major Irish urban centre has a bleak future ahead. Dublin in particular is beyond dyer. Well do r FG

  3. MoyestWithExcitement

    “it’s fully within the rights of the owners to say we want the property and we want to sell it. Right? No tenant, no, no, let me finish this, Brian. No tenant, right, has a guaranteed right and was ever promised a guaranteed right by any agent or any owner that they could stay there as long as they wanted.”

    Go Team Capitalism!

  4. Kolmo

    When the government is acting in explicit contravention to the common good and actively encouraging fortunately-placed private entities to contravene the common good solely for short-term profit, which is leading to an inevitable social time-bomb, is it not time for a radical and rapid change of government to prevent further damage? I don’t understand the lack of national solidarity, are we that brow-beaten?

    I might set up a political party…

  5. anne

    I’d say we’ll be hearing a lot more about this one.. I heard one tenant on the news saying he’s not budging. Good stuff.

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