At least 35 Dublin workers out of pocket as UK company falls into administration

Hashtag Hotels had leased student accommodation to re-let as holiday rentals

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

A British holiday rental company has fallen into administration leaving at least 35 workers in its Dublin operation without pay, in some cases for two months.

Hashtag Hotels Ltd, which was renting empty student accommodation in the summer to re-let it, has entered administration in the UK and is understood to have left behind substantial bills in Ireland.

The company rented the Host Point Campus student accommodation on Dublin’s Mayor Street earlier in the summer and let out rooms to paying guests. It rented out the rooms online through Booking. com, Agoda and Expedia websites.

Employees of the company, who were recruited in June, were told on Wednesday that the company had ceased trading. In a letter from Evolve IS, which acts as agents to insolvency practitioners, the staff were told that their “employment has ended today, by reason of redundancy”.

“Due to the company’s current financial position it is not able to make payments to you for monies due such as arrears of pay, holiday pay, redundancy pay, and compensatory notice pay,” they said, citing a British law. It also enclosed a factsheet which, again, set out guidelines for employees who have been made redundant in the UK.

The company failed, however, to set out any Irish legislation advising staff of their rights and in a subsequent call from The Irish Times, an Evolve IS staff member said another letter would be sent “in due course”, without setting out any timeline.

Administrators

Neil Bennett and Andy John of UK company Leonard Curtis have been appointed as joint administrators of Hashtag Hotels. Leonard Curtis refused to comment on the case.

However, sources who worked for Hashtag Hotels explained that some staff had not been paid at all for the duration of their employment. One source said that while she had been paid for working in July, she hadn’t been paid for work in August. It is understood that the majority of staff in its Irish operations were college students.

Aside from its Dublin operation, Hashtag Hotels had a number of sites in London and others spread across the UK, according to an archived version of its website. Its website and social media accounts were disabled or in “private mode” as of Thursday.

Employees in the Dublin branch were recruited by the end of June for receptionist and housekeeping roles and were supposed to be paid a minimum of €10 an hour. Nashon Cohen, a company director, was present during the interview process, it is understood.

One source said that a number of staff didn’t receive pay after their first month working for the company, with staff being told there was an issue with payroll.

A source with knowledge of the company’s Irish operations said it had booking sales of €280,000 for July and €220,000 for August. It is also understood that Host, a brand controlled by Victoria Hall Management Ltd, which owns the site, is owed about €160,000.

“Along with other creditors, we were only informed yesterday [August 28th] that Hashtag Hotels had entered administration,” a spokesman for Host said. “We are aware from subsequent media reports that some staff have not been paid but wish to make it clear that these are employees of Hashtag Hotels, not Host.”

Hashtag Hotels was incorporated in March of this year. UK residents Mr Cohen, Richard Ian Basch, Simon Lewis Gilbert, Jonathan Scott Harvey, Oliver James Craig Lindsay, Elliot Louis Benezra and Adam Harris are listed as directors. The Irish Times attempted to contact all of the directors but was unsuccessful. According to the company’s UK listing, Mr Basch controlled more than 75 per cent of the company while Mr Cohen and Mr Gilbert were also shareholders.