From top: An eviction letter to a tenant of Robin Hill, and another outlining how existing tenants will have to pay a deposit and new bi-monthly energy bills; Minister for Housing Simon Coveney
You may recall a post from last week about the Robin Hill apartment complex in Sandyford, Dublin 4 which went up for sale last week, after it went into Nama and was subsequently sold to Cerberus.
The post detailed claims made in the Dáil by People Before Profit-Solidarity TD Richard Boyd-Barrett.
The TD said five of Robin Hill’s tenants are now facing eviction and also said those who were not being evicted straight away were told they must pay an additional €250 per month in heating and hot water charges which were not previously included in the rent.
Mr Boyd-Barrett subsequently spoke about Robin Hill and the Tyrrelstown amendment to Seán O’Rourke on RTE Radio One.
This amendment was added to the Planning and Developlemt (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. This figure was later reduced to five and then increased to 10.
Mr Boyd-Barrett told Mr O’Rourke:
“The vulture fund or landlord can evict nine people and then six months later, by the way, the legislation will allow them to evict another nine people. And six months after that, another nine people.”
Further this this.
Eleanor Burnhill, on RTÉ’s News At One, reported on eviction notices that some of the residents of Robin Hill have received from an agent acting on behalf of Grant Thornton.
They have until June 25 to vacate Robin Hill.
Ms Burnhill reported that she obtained a statement from the Minister for Housing Simon Coveney about the matter.
“He says he is aware of the Robin Hill case. The statement says the Minister has indicated that if there is evidence that legislation is being circumvented, by companies selling off units in batches of less than 10, he will revisit this area generally.
“The officials on behalf of the minister are attempting to make contact with Cerberus to discuss the issue as soon as possible.
“And in relation to the area of hot water charges that you heard in that report, he says that if there a suggestion that new charges not previously covered by the existing tenancy agreement, if they’re being introduced, then the tenants have it open to appeal to the Residential Tenancies Board, as they have done.“
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.
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 aroundtenants in eight properties are affected.
“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.”
(A protest by members of the People for Economic Justice and the Defend Our Homes League on Kildare Street, Dublin last year)
Banks moved on over 50 Mayo property-owners who were before last week’s sitting of the County Registrar’s Court about difficulties relating to mortgages and other loans. An unprecedented 56 cases – the majority of which were in the early stages of litigation involving Civil Bills for repossession – were processed by Mr Fintan Murphy, the County Registrar. This time last year there were only about two such cases before the same court.
One young couple with a small baby told the court that they were served with notice of the proceedings even though they were just tenants of a property …Another couple before the court explained that they would not be able to maintain their mortgage because their marriage had broken down.