‘It’s Just The Beginning’

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From top: The Cruise Park housing estate in Tyrellstown in West Dublin this morning; Yesterday’s Sunday Business Post

Journalist Fearghal O’Connor, in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post, reported how more than 200 families renting homes in Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15 are facing eviction.

Twinlite – a property company owned by developers Michael and Richard Larkin – sent letters informing the families that they have to leave the properties, after a Goldman Sachs vulture fund bought an €89million loan secured on the homes by the Larkins, from Ulster Bank.

The €89million loan was secured on Tyrrelstown’s local shopping centre, ‘a significant’ land bank in the area, and the 208 houses in Cruise Park which the Larkins rented out.

Mr O’Connor reported:

“The Larkins, Davy [Stockbrokers] and Goldman Sachs signed a profit-sharing agreement that will see all the houses sold and the shopping centre ultimately refinanced to allow a Goldman exit.”

Some families have been renting the homes for up to 10 years.

Further to this, business editor of the Sunday Business Post Tom Lyons spoke to Keelin Shanley on RTÉ One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke Show earlier, about the wider implications of this move.

Keelin Shanley: “This is just one incident here. I heard David Hall, on Morning Ireland earlier today, talking about a potential 47,000 homes that could be in a similar situation. I mean, is that accurate?

Tom Lyons: “I would have thought, it sounds, if anything, conservative. If you look at the type of numbers we’re talking about, you know, we know that IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, you know they offloaded about €20billion, Ulster Bank, it would be €9billion, Nama, sales to actual vulture funds, in Ireland, you would have thought that’s somewhere around €10-€15billion and then you’re looking at Dankse, KBC, Bank of Scotland Ireland, that’s another €5billion. These loans are not only secured on people’s homes, they’re also secured on investment properties and SMEs. But because everything is linked together, you know, if you see a vulture fund move against an SME, chances are they’re going to default on their mortgage. If you don’t have a job, or your company’s been taking away from you or you’re working for one of these companies which suddenly you find yourself being fired, you can see that this could have a massive ripple effect.”

Shanley: “Massive.”

Lyons: “Far beyond just the straightforward high residential mortgages being acquired by a vulture fund.”

Shanley: “And Tom, just to be absolutely clear, I mean if we’re talking David Hall’s figure, say, 47,000, you think it could be even more. Some of those mortgages, they will have people in the homes, they are paying their mortgages, are those people safe?”

Lyons: “Well, in theory, like there are protections around your home. But it’s very easy to default and we’re talking about, if you look at AIB or Bank of Ireland – they can see ‘we’re here for the longer term’ and whereas if you’re talking about a vulture fund, these are companies which are acting on 3, to 5, to 7-year horizons.

Shanley: “They’re a quick hit, so if for example, you know have your mortgage arranged, you can afford it, you are paying it, but in the past you had some issues around it, are you vulnerable?”

Lyons: “You should be OK if it was in the past. But if it’s meant that there are payments outstanding, suddenly these funds can start saying ‘hang on, these are your missed payments, you need to start paying for these’. And that could put people under pressure. There are any number of things that could put people under pressure but these funds have got relatively short-term horizons and they have aggressive investors who are looking for big returns.”

Shanley: “And this is the beginning, would you say, of what we’re seeing here?”

Lyons:I would have thought it is just the beginning and I think it’s something that was absolutely inevitable because of the way that we decided to solve the crisis which was to ‘let’s sell everything to these big funds’. These big funds, they’re not here for the long term and they need big returns to justify the risks.”

Shanley: “So you’re saying it’s Government policy. The Times is reporting today that 90% of asset disposals by Nama were to vulture funds like this so it’s vast quantities of money.”

Lyons: “It’s absolutely vast, it’s tens of billions ultimately when you add it altogether. I mean it has been a massive transfer of money, assets, loans and power to a relatively small group of funds, probably seven or eight of them and they are now incredibly powerful. They can do things, like they now own, in certain parts of Dublin, they would own 80% of apartment blocks. So if you’ve got that, you’ve got market dictating power and there’s things you can do with rents, there’s things you can do with terms of deciding when and where do we sell, they own an awful lot of sites, so they can decided when and where do we start building the new houses.”

Shanley: “Any easy solution? We’re going to be talking about this later in the programme but, at this point, is it just you’re on a  roller coaster or is there a way to halt this?”

Lyons: “Well we decided a number of years ago that this, we’re going to put ourselves on this roller coaster and trust these funds are going to act correctly, and ethically, and it’s a fact that many of them have but as they get towards the end of their funding cycle, when they’re looking at returns, I think they’re going to start taking much tougher and tougher decisions and we’re really getting into that period of time round about now.”

Meanwhile, separately…

Also in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post, Mr Lyons reported that Nama sold Dublin’s Clarence Hotel to a consortium including Bono and the Edge without inviting any other bidders to tender for the hotel.

Mr Lyons reported:

The hotel is understood to have been sold for less than the total debts of the company which previously owned it. Last year, another State agency, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, sold U2’s former recording studio for €450,000 to the band without a public tender.

“The transaction was later investigated by the Public Accounts Committee amid allegations the site could have fetched more on the open market, a claim denied by the DDDA.”

Good times.

Listen back to Today with Sean O’Rourke in full here

Bono and Edge buy Clarence Hotel in off-market Nama deal (Sunday Business Post, Tom Lyons)

200 Dublin families face eviction in vulture deal (Sunday Business Post, Fearghal O’Connor)

UPDATE: 

Richard Larkin has spoken to Joe Duffy on Liveline this afternoon and is disputing the story in the Sunday Business Post.

He said:

“We don’t want to be in the rental business anymore. The only way to do this is to sell the houses. And we’re not selling them off in one big bunch to some investor. We’re selling them off one-by-one to families who are coming in here, who want to make their home here in Tyrrelstown.”

“As a developer we don’t have any debt at all. This rental property is held in a property fund, called EPS, that we manage the assets for. Now that company has a loan that they owe to Goldman Sachs but Goldman Sachs don’t know anything about this. I mean the first thing Goldman Sachs heard about this was on Sunday when the read the Sunday Business Post.

This idea that somehow a deal was cooked up in a back room of this big bad American bank to kick people out of their houses is absolutely nonsense and if it had checked, they would have been told that and they wouldn’t have ran this story and they wouldn’t have been scaring people…”

“…There’s not going to be mass evictions at all. A lot of people who have received notices their leases are not going to be renewed have already found new accommodation and have moved, others have agreed to buy their properties and have wanted to buy their properties  from us and they will be staying exactly where they are.”

We’re talking a very small number of people and nowhere near the numbers that were thrown around by the Business Post.”

“We’ve gone to all of them and we’ve said, look, you know, it’s not always possible, people don’t always have the ability to get a mortgage but anyone who can and who wants to own their own home, we will not put it on the market we will sell it directly to them, there will be no bidding wars, there will be no anything.”

“… There’s no evictions, first of all, their lease won’t be renewed, some people have six months left on their lease, some people have four months left on their lease, you know.

“But the other thing to point out is any of these properties, where the leases are not being renewed, the day comes at the end of the lease, if we haven’t agreed to sell that house to somebody, we’re not going to tell the tenant he has to get out. We’ll say to the tenant, ‘right you can remain there month-to-month, it’s ok, until we can find a buyer, or until you can find alternative accommodation, or until the tenant can [buy it].”

“…Their lease is going to expire and it’s not going to be renewed so if you want to call that eviction, you can call it an eviction but I mean, you know, we’re not telling them, get out of your house, we’re saying in six months time, when your lease is up, you need to find somewhere else to live.”

Listen back to Liveline here

61 thoughts on “‘It’s Just The Beginning’

    1. 15 cents

      its not the legality that’s the issue. But going by your comment, you’ve no compassion, so there’s no point explaining to you what the issue with this is. Enjoy your robot life.

    2. ahjayzis

      No one is saying it isn’t completely legal – they’re saying it was either massively short-sighted or mendaciously ideological to give foreign venture capitalists dominion over our built environment like this.

      It might be legal to flog state assets to the lowest bidder without even inviting bids, but inarguably it’s either f**ping stupid or totally bent.

    3. MoyestWithExcitement

      Pretty sure the wider point here is its legality is the problem. We, as a society, are saying the right of American billionaires to make a couple of more million dollars outweighs the rights of 200 children to stay in their homes.

      1. Holden MaGroin

        Isn’t the point that they are not their homes but houses which they are renting? I understand the coldness of my previous statement but it doesn’t make it untrue.

        I suppose another point is the idea that another 200 families could increase the demand for Dublin’s already crowded rental market.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          They are paying money to live there and they, well, live there. Goldman Sachs literally just have a piece of paper that we, as a society, choose to give any meaning to. We are saying that piece of paper means they own the building and the people who live in it and pay money to live there don’t. That’s fine. That’s capitalism. But society is all about balancing rights. I would say the rights of the people who live in the building and pay to live there should outweigh the rights of a billionaire with a piece of paper to sell that piece of paper for a few more million.

        2. Rob_G

          Another way of looking at it is that there will be 200 new properties available for families who are looking to buy a home.

          (probably not much comfort to the people getting evicted, though).

  1. ahjayzis

    Stephene Donnelly was on Marian about this yesterday.

    The mortgages NAMA sold were sold for about 10c in the euro to these vultures. NAMA refused to sell to the actual borrowers for 50-80c in the euro. NAMA gave these things away, it didn’t have to be like this.

    1. Owen C

      They weren’t sold at 10c in the Euro. I think you misheard Donnelly claiming they were sold at a 10% discount, ie 90c in the Euro. House prices are roughly 40% below peak as an average the country, with some of the worse stuff maybe more like 60-70%. But they also come with full personal recourse, so why on earth would NAMA ever sell them at just 10c in the Euro? Use some common sense here.

      From a previous Indo op-ed from Donnelly: “The performing mortgages will be bundled together and sold at a discount of about 10 per cent.”

      The op-ed itself has a lot of vague “Tom and Mary” type anecdotes that don’t actually occur very often in reality (ie the prospects of someone deep in negative equity and arrears being able to get a new 100% mortgage from an Irish bank!), but if we’re going to reference him, lets at least reference what he actually said.

      http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/stephen-donnelly-an-outrageous-act-of-vandalism-and-sheer-stupidity-30013668.html

      1. Anne

        50% discount on ‘distressed’ mortgages..

        That no individual borrower could avail of themselves. It’s much easily to bundle them together and sell to the vultures according to Baldy.. We don’t want the hassle.. The arrogant fupp.

        Use some common sense? That’s something Nama hasn’t applied all that much.

        (just as an aside, don’t bother replying for the sake of it, unless there’s something incorrect in anything I wrote. I’ve no interest in a little chinwag with anyone really, sorry, thanks…)

        1. Owen C

          Anne, you decided to chime in on this conversation. You’re the one initiating a chinwag. Just as an aside, like.

      2. Anne

        RE: “They weren’t sold at 10c in the Euro. I think you misheard Donnelly claiming they were sold at a 10% discount, ie 90c in the Euro.” And “but if we’re going to reference him, lets at least reference what he actually said.”

        Yeah, let’s at least do that – reference what he actually said.. I can’t go anywhere with this traffic anyway, where I am, so why not go to the bother of finding out what he actually said..

        He didn’t mishear Stephen Donnelly.
        He did say 10c in the euro.

        Here you go –
        http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=b9_20950675_70_13-03-2016_
        Around min 20

        “Take another one, which I thought was outrageous, that Fine Gael drove through, was the sale of the IRBC mortgages book .
        Now, I know people who went in to, it’s called the ‘Data room’, where you can go and see how each individual mortgage is being sold for and you add them all up at the end and you say right, the full mortgage book is whatever it is, a 1 billion/2 billion… and they were being sold for 10 cents in the euro.

        So take a family, a family might be in mortgage arrears..and they lost their job or whatever.. let’s say they bought the property for 300 grand, and they could service 200 grand. Fine Gael refused to allow that family to bid on their own mortgage.. So what happened, what they did allow, was these funds to come in and buy that 300 grand (interruption from the zzzope Marian).. So what happened instead was vulture funds came in, specialised debt collectors, and bought this 300 grand mortgage for 30 grand and they’re now going back to the family and saying, we’re going to evict you and sell your home for whatever it’s worth, and we’re off ”

        How about we not lecture people when we don’t go to the bother of looking up what they’re referring to? How about we at least do that Owen C

    1. ahjayzis

      Vacuous point.
      Someone has to go to town on this. This is a legitimately outrageous unfurling of a deeply flawed government ideological stance.

      1. Holden MaGroin

        I agree it is a legitimately outrageous unfurling of a deeply flawed government ideological stance.

  2. phil

    I wonder did anyone living in those houses in Tyrrelstown vote for FF/FG/LAB , have they made the connection yet ?

    1. Holden MaGroin

      Statistically Im sure that some of them did. What’s your point?
      That the government screwed them? If it is I think they may know that already. They’re renting in Dublin.

      Yes I did answer my own question! So There.

      1. Anne

        We’ll all end up renting the way things are going.. Owning a home will be a dream.

        Property will be owned by a few vultures, thanks to the Irish taxpayer who funded the losses of the loans in the first place, and thanks to the Irish government who then sold on everything on the cheap.

    2. Mister Mister

      It’s irrelevant who they voted for. Problem started with the developer who didn’t service their load, and then with Ulster Bank who sold it on.

      1. Mister Mister

        Service their loan, I’m pretty sire they serviced plenty of their load, including a landing strip at one of their gaffs.

  3. Owen C

    This is a simple security of tenancy issue. Not sure why all the Goldman Sachs/vulture fund/NAMA/mortgage references are in it, because they are just confusing the whole issue. This isn’t about people in mortgage arrears losing their homes (which Tom Lyons for some reason is asked about and then talks about). This is simply a case of whether tenancy agreements need to be strengthened in favour of the tenants. They almost certainly do. But if a landlord wants to sell the actual property, what alternative outcome should we have here?

    1. Cian

      In lots of Europe, a house currently for rent can be sold, but the tenants’ rights are unaffected by this sale.

      That seems a reasonable way of running things.

  4. Junkface

    This is awful news for all of those families. Its just horribly typical of an Irish Government to sell off thousands of houses to Vulture funds for quick cash. The same same short sightedness, the same mess every few years. Ireland is firmly on the Idiot Loop, and we’re getting quite good at it.

      1. Anne

        “talking about a potential 47,000 homes that could be in a similar situation.”

        “it sounds, if anything, conservative. If you look at the type of numbers we’re talking about, you know, we know that IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, you know they offloaded about €20billion, Ulster Bank, it would be €9billion, Nama, sales to actual vulture funds, in Ireland, you would have thought that’s somewhere around €10-€15billion and then you’re looking at Dankse, KBC, Bank of Scotland Ireland, that’s another €5billion. ”

        We’re top of the class in selling to the vultures..

        *again, don’t bother replying to have a chinwag, unless anything I said was incorrect. Thanks.

  5. AndrewSB49

    Financial sources state that currently between 40 or 50 percent of the debt of the government of Puerto Rico is under the control of hedge funds, which in turn are part vulture funds. Their influence on public policy decisions is increasingly evident.

    http://periodismoinvestigativo.com/2015/04/vulture-funds-have-puerto-rico-cornered/

    I presume Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail has invited these hedge/vulture fund managers to be part of the 1916 commemorations at the GPO?

  6. Toni The Exotic Dancer

    This perfectly hightlights the Repo mess that is Ireland.
    Tenants pay rent, never miss a payment & can be evicted at short notice.
    House owners refuse to pay mortgage, in some cases for several years & the court allows them to stay in their house for free. There are flip All repos in Ireland! Free up these gafs now for potential homebuyers.

    1. Anne

      “Free up these gafs now for potential homebuyers.”

      Where are we going to put them? Who’ll end up paying? Hotels ain’t cheap.. even though they’re making it as uncomfortable as possible for people who end up homeless.

    2. Anne

      “Tenants pay rent, never miss a payment & can be evicted at short notice.”

      That’s exactly what these people are facing.. The people there are renting.

  7. DubLoony

    Absolutely appalling.
    People who have been living there for years, paying rent higher than a mortgage should get first dibs on them at least.

    If a landlord is selling, tenants are affected. But generally, they happen singly, not en mass like this.

  8. Eoin

    Government Sachs might act legally, but that doesn’t make them right or just or good or anything positive in any way. The law is a compromised ass in this case. Due to the likes of these Wall St types lobbying any sense out of the law.

  9. Anne

    Is Mick Wallace the only TD screaming blue murder about this mass asset stripping that’s going on at the hands of Nama? The response he’s gotten from that wax work, Kenny has been a disgrace.

  10. Kolmo

    Would any other government in Northern Europe allow their own citizens to be made homeless by the criminality of the banks?
    Do people think that this is acceptable? Legal or not – it is not acceptable in a civilised society to simply turf people out of their homes, the social damage caused by this trauma to families outweighs any commercial consideration. The banks are supposed to be financial experts – they handed out unsustainable loans into pyramid market – it’s their fault, not the plumber or bus driver who is getting evicted.

  11. Rob_G

    I’m looking forward to see some rowing back from some of the more hysterical commentators in light of the update.

      1. Harry Molloy

        it is. a perfect of example of newspapers pandering to peoples desire to be outraged

      2. Anne

        Is it that amazing that this won’t be what’s going to happen? That’s the whole point – ‘its just the beginning’..

        20 billion offloaded.. profits to be made. Quick flipping to be done. Rents to be increased.

        I have to laugh at some of the mindset.

        Here the other evening, you have someone defending Nama, (some of his chums work for them) saying we can’t be asking who ever buys these loans to act ethically.. –

        “I’ll admit the Isle of Man crap looks dodgy, but as an aside – the whole vulture fund argument. Dont get it. So if the NI portfolio had been sold off to a Canadian teachers pension fund who promised to never ever ever let if off their books would people be happy? BTW NAMA can’t write conditions into their sale agreements saying “Now Mr. Lovely Investor you promise to never ever ever EVER sell this asset on to one of those nasty vulture funds we hear so much about”.”

        He’s admitting they’re not going to act ethnically. Maximum profit is what they’re about.
        There you have it. ‘it’s not how sh*t works’ he tells us.

        https://www.broadsheet.ie/2016/03/11/we-request-that-you-correct-the-record/#comment-1563737

        Ye’re all the same.. point out the obvious, ‘it’s the law, it’s what it’s all about – max profits for the investor’. Amazing indeed Owen C.

          1. Rob_G

            (this article is about houses that Ulster Bank sold, rather than Nama)

            – people complain (quite rightly) that NAMA sitting on so much property is distorting the market. Then, when NAMA and/or the financial institutions begin to divest themselves of some of the property, people lose their sh*t altogether.

  12. Tish Mahorey

    There was a corporate outfit of vulture fund managers who used to buy coffee in the same place as me a couple of years ago. They were the rudest customers of that shop by far. No eye contact with the shop assistant as they talked business on their headphones and generally disrupted the peace of the place, barging around grabbing what they wanted, taking up more personal space than necessary, clopping their shoe heels, loving the noise they made.

    Awful w*nkers but they never smiled, never seemed happy.

    1. Kieran NYC

      Keep doing, Mr T! Tell us what part of Dublin they live! Tell us all about the fancy cars they drive! And their hilarious kids’ names like Fiachra!

      Ooooh yeah baby, keep going!

  13. theCitizen

    Has there been anything smelly in the last few years that Davy were not involved with?

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