Tag Archives: Tyrrelstown amendment

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.

This afternoon.

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.

Listen back to Ms Burnhill’s report in full here

Previously: ‘The Minister Did Not Contact Me’

Pics: Eleanor Burnhill/Rollingnews

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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”

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Independent TD Seamus Healy speaking about the Focus Ireland amendment during a debate on Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016 last December

You’ll recall the Tyrrelstown amendment.

And how 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.

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

Mr Coveney explained to the Dáil, on December 16, 2016:

“Amendment No. 92 is known as the Tyrrelstown amendment. It provides for the increase in the number of dwellings to which section 35 applies from five to ten. The original figure was 20 dwellings and this was amended to five on Report Stage in the Seanad.”

“The purpose of the Tyrrelstown amendment was to indicate to institutional investors buying large-scale developments that when these properties are sold, the existing tenancies in those properties will be protected.”

The figure of 20 units was chosen because anything above it represented a medium-sized development. I want to ensure that when medium-sized and large-scale developments are bought and sold, tenants will be protected through the process in order that we will not have a repeat of what happened in Tyrrelstown.”

“By and large, these developments are managed by professionally-managed funds, professional landlords and so-called vulture funds. In drafting the Tyrrelstown amendment, the Department was aware that restricting the use of the ground of sale to terminate a tenancy could be regarded as an interference with constitutionally-protected property rights. The number of dwellings was chosen to ensure that this interference was both proportionate and justified. I am told this is a requirement if we seek to proceed in this way.”

Let us suppose a landlord has one property with a tenant and he is looking to sell that property. The rights of the landlord in terms of ownership and sale, and the potential reduction in value if he were to sell it with a tenant in it, interferes with a person’s property rights.”

Let us suppose a landlord is an owner of 40 properties each with tenants. It is surely both proportionate and justified that the rights of those 40 would override the property rights of an individual in the Constitution. That is why when we have multiple numbers; it is both proportionate and justified to do what we are doing. However, if it is a question of the right of one person as a tenant versus the constitutional property rights of the owner as a landlord then there is an issue. This is what I have been told.”

“I have much sympathy for the spirit of what we are trying to do. I introduced the so-called Tyrrelstown amendment early. I did so not when the Bill was progressing but during the summer, because I took the view that it was the right thing to do. However, I cannot ignore legal advice either. I have taken legal advice from the Attorney General on this issue. While I am not seeking to return the number of dwellings to which the amendment applies to 20, I believe that, having taken the advice, ten is the appropriate number.”

“To be clear, I sought legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General after Report Stage in the Seanad because we were concerned about the matter at the time. In fact, I raised it with colleagues. While the number of units was reduced from 20 to five, the Attorney General advised that ten was the more appropriate number.”

Meanwhile…

Also before Christmas.

Focus Ireland proposed an amendment to the Planning and Development Bill 2016 to protect all tenants of buy-to-let properties from being evicted or served termination notices, on the basis that their landlords were selling the property.

The amendment was moved by Tipperary Independent TD Seamus Healy (above).

However, it was lost with 43 votes for; 52 votes against and 25 abstentions.

Here’s how they voted.

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Further to this…

Independent TD Stephen Donnelly and director of advocacy Focus Ireland Mike Allen spoke to Seán O’Rourke on Today with Seán O’Rourke this morning.

They spoke about the Tyrrelstown amendment and the rejected Focus Ireland amendment.

From the discussion…

Stephen Donnelly: “…The Tyrrelstown amendment will help but there’s an awful lot more that needs to happen.”

Seán O’Rourke: “Remind us as well, of the numbers, there has be a certain threshold, above which there are numbers of apartments of being sold because if it’s down to ones or twos, it doesn’t apply, isn’t that right?”

Donnelly: “That’s right, yeah. I can’t remember exactly what the number is. I know it was brought down. There was very good advocacy from some of the senators, I think Mary Alice Higgins and some others were involved in trying to push the number down with Simon Coveney and I think they succeeded. But, I’m sorry, I don’t have the number off the top of my head.”

O’Rourke: “If I could turn to you, Mike Allen, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland, are you seeing now the early days of 2017, an increased demand or calling on your own services?”

Mike Allen: “Good morning, Sean. What we’ve been seeing over the last year is, we reckon around a third of families who are becoming homeless in Dublin are becoming homeless because their landlord has been forced to sell up, one way or another. And it’s very hard to know exactly what’s happening there. But, talking to the families in our services and elsewhere, there’s a strong sense that landlords, these particular landlords are being forced to sell up, either by banks or by vulture funds because they, themselves, have got behind in their mortgages. And the Tyrrelstown amendment, while it’s very positive for the places that it effects – Tyrrelstown in particular, in retrospect. You know, they’re trying to address that issue retrospectively. It doesn’t deal with the vast majority of landlords.

Over 95% of Irish tenants have landlords with only one or two properties and that’s where, on a day-to-day basis, people are being forced into homelessness and an amendment which would have extended this sort of protection to all buy-to-let tenants was rejected by the Government and Fianna Fáil, and for the life of me, I don’t know why it was rejected. There might be some good reason but nobody bothered to come out and explain why they couldn’t extend that protection.”

There’s over 15,000 tenancies where the landlord is in arrears for more than two years and, not all of those by any means, but a significant number of those tenants are completely unaware themselves but they’re at huge risk of being evicted and ending up in homeless services and we don’t seem to be doing anything seriously or urgently about that.

Later

O’Rourke: “Stephen Donnelly, just to answer that question or maybe you might like to offer an insight that Mike Allen raised about why the Tyrrelstown amendment, protecting people’s tenancies, doesn’t apply in the case of, you know, a single or maybe one or two-property landlord.

Donnelly:I don’t know, it makes absolutely no sense. I mean it’s a very simple thing to do, to say, if you have a tenancy and the property you’re in is being sold through forced repossession, or whatever it is, that you’re protected. The tenancy, tenants, are protected. Every tenant in this country knows the legal protections available just aren’t good enough.”

Listen back in full here

Dáil transcript via kildarestreet.com and vote via oireachtas.ie

Previously: ‘We Will Fix This’