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Sunday 25 June 2017

'40 sharing a house not unusual', says owner

The house on Leinster Road, Rathmines, with bunk beds visible in the window
The house on Leinster Road, Rathmines, with bunk beds visible in the window
James ‘Jim’ Cuddy

A businessman who owns a number of houses being rented by up to 40 people at a time claims he is doing nothing wrong, saying: "There is nothing unusual about this... sure what happens when you have 40 kids in a school?"

James 'Jim' Cuddy (67) has been issued with fire safety notices by Dublin City Council after a number of his properties across the capital were found to be dangerously overcrowded.

Mr Cuddy, who lives in a 12-bed mansion in Co Cavan, owns four houses on the Howth Road in Clontarf and a property on Leinster Road in Rathmines.

Overcrowded

An undercover investigation by Independent.ie revealed how these properties were overcrowded with foreign nationals after the houses were filled with bunk beds.

The tenants were each paying €300 a month in rent, meaning each house could be generating €12,000 a month in income - or around €144,000 a year.

With five houses being rented to up to 40 people, Mr Cuddy and the management company subletting his houses could have been collecting close to €800,000 in rent for the year.

Mr Cuddy said that he leased the properties to a company called Red Sky Property Management and allowed them to "do whatever they like with them".

Red Sky was previously run by Christian Carter (29) and his father, Colin Carter, with addresses at Dunedin Drive, Monkstown, and Grove Park, Rathmines.

Mr Cuddy claimed Red Sky "are in the business of accommodating students".

When questioned about the unhealthy living conditions in the houses, he said: "Well, I'm sure they could move out if they wanted to."

He denied he had anything to do with the running of the properties, but when asked about the number of tenants occupying the houses, he said: "There is nothing unusual about this. That's not a regulation. Sure what happens when you have 40 kids in a school?"

However, following inspections by Dublin City Council last month, the houses in Howth were deemed to be in breach of fire safety regulations.

When all of the properties were visited, the tenants were found to be in the process of moving out.

The houses on the Howth Road, formerly known as units 1-4 Howth Court, are now known collectively as 116 Howth Road.

Dublin City Council issued fire safety notices in respect of numbers 1, 2 and 3, and a spokesperson confirmed that, if the notices are not complied with, "a person convicted for an offence may be liable to a maximum fine of €130,000 and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years".

The buildings concerned are also being investigated by Planning Control and Environmental Health Officers.

Fire

The house in Rathmines, where 40 women were living, was described as a "death trap" by a former tenant.

She claimed there is no way of exiting the building at the back in the event of a fire in the front of the house.

Mr Cuddy is presently director of three Irish companies - Crossagalla Management Company, Irish International Abrasives and Cuddy Industries.

Irish Abrasives is his biggest and most successful company - it has been producing and importing abrasive products since the 1980s.

It was previously revealed that Christian Carter was subletting a property in The Pines, Lehaunstown, Cabinteely, to up to 70 people at a time.

Following an inspection by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, this property was deemed to be an "unauthorised, dangerous hostel".

Mr Carter was ordered by the Circuit Civil Court to find the remaining tenants in The Pines alternative accommodation, in what the judge deemed to be an "extremely serious matter".

The house had significant sewage problems and Judge Jacqueline Linnane stated the tenants would be "safer sleeping on couches somewhere than in that house".

Speaking yesterday, Christian Carter claimed that the number of tenants occupying these houses has now been reduced after fire safety notices were issued by DCC.

"I have now resigned from Red Sky. The houses in Howth Court were of a better standard than the house in The Pines, but there are now only 16 people in three of the houses and 10 in the others," he said.

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