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Friday 20 September 2019

'We've nowhere else to go', say tenants in vulture fund protest

Residents threatened with eviction hold a protest outside the offices of vulture fund Val Issuer Dac on Molesworth Street
Residents threatened with eviction hold a protest outside the offices of vulture fund Val Issuer Dac on Molesworth Street

A group of residents facing eviction from their Dublin homes by a vulture fund have said they have nowhere else to go.

The residents, all from properties in Rosedale Terrace, Richmond Street and Grove Park, staged a protest yesterday against eviction notices that have been issued to over 50 families by Val Issuer DAC (Designated Activity Company).

The residents fear they will be made homeless if the firm is successful in appealing against a ruling by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) which found the notices invalid.

The appeal comes after the vulture fund made a separate application to Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanala in February requesting planning permission for an additional two floor levels and a balcony at Rosedale Terrace and Clanbrassil Street Lower.

Refused

An Bord Pleanala refused the application, saying it would cause shadowing and a loss of privacy and threaten the sustainable development of the area.

Ramon Cernuda (41) was among the protesters gathered outside Val Issuer DAC's offices on Molesworth Street.

The IT manager, who is originally from Spain, has lived in his one-bedroom apartment in Rosedale Terrace for seven years, paying a rent of €950.

He has been looking for alternative accommodation since he received the eviction notice, but has found nothing acceptable, let alone comparable, at the same rent. "I have nowhere to go," he said.

The RTB ruled in June that the notice that Val Issuer DAC served on Mr Cernuda on April 2 for his apartment was invalid, for a variety of reasons.

Among them was that "on receipt of the notice of termination the tenant was not armed with accurate information with regards to the proposed duration of the works, which was information to which the tenant was statutorily entitled pursuant to s. 35(9)(b) to use when deciding how to act following the termination of the tenancy".

An agent acting on behalf of the landlord had told the board that the project manager, Logical Real Estate Consulting, would be hiring contractors to commence the renovations on November 18 and they "are expected" to last for eight or nine months. But no specific date of completion was provided.

However, speaking to the Herald, Mr Cernuda said he fears the landlord will find some loophole to get around it.

"Until the anti-eviction bill passes in the Dail, we are very much screwed," he said.

He also believes that the landlord's claim that substantial renovations are required is just an excuse to evict the tenants in order to raise the rent.

The renovations listed include replacing windows to make them more energy efficient and replacing the existing bathrooms and kitchens. But Mr Cernuda said: "The building is OK. Nothing is falling apart."

Also protesting was tenant Harry Harun (30), who pays €1,300 a month to live in Richmond Street.

"With this sort of approach, I don't see how the growth of the city can continue," he said.

"Just this morning you could see people removing things from the houses just down the street. The whole thing is just appalling. We don't know when the time is going to come for us."

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett hit out at the vulture fund.

"It's barbaric behaviour. They don't seem to care about the human cost and stress, hardship and anxiety of families that could be turfed out onto the street. It's shocking," he said.

"The Government have to intervene to stop these kind of evictions.

Terrified

"The Government have to do something. They have to intervene to stop these kind of evictions."

Peter Dooley, a spokesman for the voluntary Dublin Renters Union organisation, said the same landlord is trying to evict more than 50 families living in Rosedale Terrace, Dublin 8, as well as tenants in Georgian terrace houses at 53 to 58 Richmond Street, Portobello, and 15 Grove Park, Rathmines.

"One woman was so terrified of being evicted that she went into emergency accommodation," he said.

Val Issuer DAC fund director Sean O'Sullivan did not respond to a request for comment.

Yesterday's protest was the second in just over a month. In August, 50 of the families facing eviction demonstrated against what they claim is a "reno-viction".

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