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Under the eye of landlord Marc Godart: how a tenant who objected to CCTV surveillance was evicted

Mexican tenant Salvador Chávez Morales complained about a camera trained on the kitchen of his Dublin rental, part of the property business of controversial Luxembourg landlord Marc Godart

Computer engineer Salvador Chavez Morales arrived in Dublin with dreams of getting ahead in the global tech hub. He was attracted, like many Latin Americans, by visas allowing applicants to study English while working part-time.

Six weeks later he was running short of food and faced the prospect of being turned out on the street. A letting agency had retained €1,146 of the savings he had painstakingly built up over years of work in his native Mexico and had issued him with an eviction notice. The reason? He had objected to a CCTV camera that recorded live footage in his kitchen. To push through the eviction and force him to leave the property, the agency then removed his bed and bedroom door.

Salvador had become entangled in the property business of controversial Luxembourg landlord Marc Godart, who employs Spanish-speaking staff to post ads for beds on Spanish-language chat groups and social media pages, shepherding Ireland’s new arrivals towards the website amid a dire shortage of affordable housing in the capital.

A new investigation by The Irish Times, drawing on the accounts of a whistleblower who worked for Godart and some of his former tenants, sheds new light on practices within his operation and his treatment of migrants who have recently arrived in Ireland. The Luxembourg businessman did not respond to queries around the issues that have arisen in this investigation.


An internal Godart company booking system seen by The Irish Times shows 208 bed places are rented out across 19 flats and houses in Dublin city centre. Among them are 33 beds in a property on Cork Street, and six apartments each with between six and 19 beds in Reuben House, where residents were controversially evicted in 2022 to make way for short-stay lets. Some rooms are shared by six people, stacked in three-tier bunk beds.

The former employee said the target market of the company is new people arriving to Ireland who don’t know the law around tenancies, who don’t have too much information about housing issues or who don’t know who Marc Godart is

“Latin Americans, most of them. Bolivians, Mexicans, Panamanians,” a former employee of Godart said of the tenants from whom, until recently, he used to collect rent.

“Kitchen porters, waitresses, kitchen assistants... cleaners. They’re studying English and they also have jobs.”

The former employee said the target market of the company is new people arriving to Ireland who don’t know the law around tenancies, who don’t have too much information about housing issues or who don’t know who Marc Godart is.

Salvador’s place was on Capel Street in Dublin city centre. It was one of four flats rented out by Godart’s company in the same building. His room had just enough space for a single bed. It was partitioned with temporary walls out of the kitchen of a flat where seven people shared the other two rooms.

“This is my shoebox,” he joked in a video presenting the room to friends back home in late June. “Welcome to Dublin.”

He started his English course and began getting to know his flatmates, pleased with the flat’s central location. But as the date neared to pay the rent for August, he heard a concerning rumour. Flatmates told him the letting agency had threatened to evict them all because someone, tired of repeated thefts outside, had brought their bicycle into the flat. This broke a house rule.

“Hello, some of my flatmates said you’re going to cancel our contracts, is it right?” he asked a company representative over WhatsApp on July 25, a screenshot shows.

The company representative denied it and nudged him to pay the upcoming rent.

“Hi Salvador, I don’t seem to have such information as your contracts will not be terminated. How would you like to pay please, card or cash?” said the representative.

He handed over the rent for August that day: €656.10, according to a payment record.

Four days later on July 29th, Salvador’s plans to hand out CVs were interrupted by a WhatsApp message. He had been sent a pdf document entitled “termination notice”. It gave him seven days to leave the flat, giving no reason.

“We are not required to give any form of notice at the end of the licence period,” the notice read. Irish law provides for 28 days notice for tenancies under six months.

If Salvador wanted to get back his deposit of €490, he had to be out by August 5th, the notice instructed him.

None of his flatmates received eviction notices. Salvador was singled out because he had complained about a CCTV camera that recorded live footage within the flat, according to the former Godart employee who dealt with the issue.

“The eviction was made during his first month because he didn’t agree with the cameras,” the employee said.

A camera was installed just above the door to Salvador’s bedroom and was focused on the kitchen, footage shows.

The use of CCTV within the properties he is renting was among several issues Godart was asked to comment on in an email from The Irish Times earlier this week to which he did not respond.

The Capel Street flat is one of several Godart properties that have cameras installed inside them that record live audio and video footage of the tenants.

One clip showing two people chatting in the kitchen of the Cork Street property was downloaded and shared among Godart employees to identify who had left unwashed plates in the sink, the former employee said

Godart employees can view the live footage at will through a mobile phone app, according to the former employee.

“They can see live action of the cameras... also they can hear what are they saying... they use the cameras to know what is happening,” said the former employee.

One clip showing two people chatting in the kitchen of the Cork Street property was downloaded and shared among Godart employees to identify who had left unwashed plates in the sink, the former employee said.

According to a ruling by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), which mediates disputes between tenants and landlords: “The provision of security cameras in a rented dwelling, particularly internal cameras, is an invasion of personal privacy and a breach of the right to peaceful occupation.”

This ruling was made in 2022 in a case taken by a group of tenants, also from Mexico, who had rented a property from Godart near Mountjoy Square. Mexican brothers Uriel and Gabriel Chavira lived in the property and Uriel was one of the tenants who brought the RTB case. Gabriel wasn’t a named complainant in the case but witnessed the events. He moved out of the property.

Godart told the court he had issued Uriel and his fellow complainants an eviction notice 18 days into their tenancy “because of ongoing issues and complaints about the CCTV”, according to a report of proceedings. He defended the cameras, portraying them as an expensive perk installed “to protect the peaceful enjoyment of the dwelling”.

The RTB ordered Godart to pay the tenants €7,500 in damages for maintaining CCTV cameras in the house against their consent, for issuing invalid eviction notices, and using his own key to enter the house.

The tenants remain in the property, which turned out – as in several cases documented by The Irish Times – to be sublet by Godart without the knowledge of the owner. Nearly two years since the ruling, the tenants say they have yet to receive the damages from Godart ordered by the RTB.

After receiving his eviction notice, Salvador heard through the grapevine of this strikingly similar case involving fellow Mexicans, who had won a case against the landlord at a body he now learned of called the RTB.

Until then, Salvador had not actually been aware that his landlord was Marc Godart. Employees that operate the website, collect rent and deal with tenants are paid by Itzig Sarl, the Luxembourg company owned by Godart and his parents that is registered to his suburban childhood home. They work alongside Godart in a central Dublin office.

But the website gives away none of this. Its physical address listed as merely “Dublin 1, Ireland”. Booking confirmations from the website bear the company name “Home Away” and use the logo of Airbnb, without any permission or involvement of the San Francisco rental company, The Irish Times has confirmed.

The eviction notice issued to Salvador was signed with an anonymous scribble “on behalf of Administration Panel”, without bearing any person or company’s name.

To rent his room, Salvador was required to sign a contract but was refused a copy – a common practice, according to the former employee.

The Irish Times has seen a contract that was issued to another tenant, granting a four-month tenancy in Beaver Street in Dublin 1 from last November. It states that the contract is being made between the tenant and “AIRBNB”, which actually has no involvement.

The contract contains unusual terms and conditions, banning the drinking of alcohol and tenants from sharing a bed with anyone else. Showers can be no longer than 10 minutes, and “random checks will be made randomly without notice”, it reads.

A section of the contract about CCTV cameras in the property appears to be copied and pasted from a document by the European Parliament, altered to read “Irish Parliament”. The contract cites EU industry regulations for CCTV systems that do not relate to privacy law to insist on the legality of cameras within the flat.

It seemingly seeks to override Irish law, stating that the tenant “is not to be entitled ... to any statutory protection under the Housing Acts”, and that tenants can be required to leave with seven days notice or, “in case of breach of any condition or house rules... with immediate effect”.

Hearing about the case involving fellow Mexicans had given Salvador a clue as to who his landlord really was. To confirm this, he took photographs of missed delivery cards left at the Capel Street address by An Post, addressed to René Godart, as director of Capel Grand Inn Limited, and Green Label Property Investments.

Googling these names brought him to previous reports by The Irish Times about Godart and his rentals business. He learned that René was Marc’s father, and that Green Label Property Investments is the Luxembourg family’s main vehicle for managing their assets in Ireland, and had paid Marc €298,410 in director’s remuneration in 2022.

Workmen entered his bedroom and dismantled the bed he slept on, phone footage shows. They then removed the door to his bedroom, leaving it open to the kitchen. The pin codes to the doors to the flat were changed

He now had the knowledge necessary to lodge a dispute of his eviction notice with the RTB.

In theory, lodging this dispute should have prevented any eviction from going ahead until the case was resolved.

Nevertheless, on August 5th, Godart employees arrived at the Capel Street flat and told Salvador to leave, brushing off Salvador’s objections that he had the right to stay and had lodged a dispute with the RTB.

Workmen entered his bedroom and dismantled the bed he slept on, phone footage shows. They then removed the door to his bedroom, leaving it open to the kitchen. The pin codes to the doors to the flat were changed, and Salvador’s flatmates told him they had been threatened with eviction if they told him what the new codes were.

Salvador had paid €1,146 to the agency in rent for the month of August and as a deposit.

“It was my savings, you know. Many years of savings,” he recalls.

With money dwindling and nowhere else to go, he resolved to try to stay in the flat for the days he had paid for. He slept on the floor of the doorless room and left the flat as little as possible, occasionally missing his English course and running low on food, constantly anxious he would return to find his possessions thrown out.

“It was painful, a month living on the floor. It was stressful. It was a nightmare,” he says.

Finally, he found a new place where a sympathetic landlord would allow him time to save up to pay a new deposit. He left Capel Street at the end of August, and soon found work as a waiter.

When the hearing at the RTB came around, Salvador represented himself. He used the opportunity to ask the judge why the previous tenants who had clashed with Godart over CCTV had never been paid their damages.

“I was surprised how this person can still be doing this, and no one does anything. The law is not working,” Salvador says.

Without enforcement, he feels there is nothing to stop the same thing happening repeatedly to new arrivals who may not know the language or the law.

“We are immigrants. We are trying to grow as a professional, as person... maybe [needing] to sell things or ask people to lend you money to come here, to pay the school, the course, the apartment,” he says.

“It’s not fair, and what’s more incredible is that no one does anything against him.”

Who is Marc Godart?

The controversial landlord: How Marc Godart and his family built an Irish rental empire (August 2023)

Listen | 29:26

The landlord and property investor Marc Godart invested in commercial and residential property in Ireland during the economic crash, using funding from family companies in his native Luxembourg.

He first came to public prominence early last year when it emerged he had evicted about 45 tenants from apartments in Reuben House, Dublin 8, telling them he intended to sell the apartments, only for the tenants to discover that the apartments were available for short-term rent on property letting website Airbnb.

At the time Dublin City Council took enforcement proceedings against Godart’s company, Green Label Property Investments Ltd, for the unauthorised holiday letting of the apartments. Owners of property in Dublin must secure planning permission for short-term or holiday letting, unless it is their home and they let it for less than three months of the year.

Godart and his companies have been mentioned in relation to 12 disputes before the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) over the unlawful termination of tenancies and other matters, with findings being made in the tenants’ favour.

In one case, Lizet Pena-Herrera, a tenant of a property on Cork Street, Dublin 8, was awarded €15,433 after she successfully took a case to the RTB for illegal eviction. Ms Pena-Herrera then went to the District Court to secure an enforcement order against Green Label in an effort to secure the payment of the RTB award.

As well as letting property owned by his Green Label group, Mr Godart is also involved in the letting of other people’s property which he then sublets to both commercial and residential tenants.

He is the director and/or secretary of more than 50 Irish companies, some of which own property, some of which are involved in letting, and others which appear to be dormant. The property-owning companies do not have mortgages registered against their holdings but instead are funded by a Godart family company in Luxembourg called Hesper SA. It had assets of €4.29 million at the end of 2021, according to its most recently filed accounts. A website called is used to let some of these properties.

Land Registry filings, RTB determinations, and reporting by The Irish Times show that Godart and his companies have been associated with the ownership and/or renting of property at: Reuben House, Dublin 8, Beaver Street/Railway Street, Dublin 1, Capel Street, Dublin Emmet Street, North Circular Road, Dublin 1, Derrynane Square, Dublin 7, Windsor Avenue, Dublin 3, Cork Street, Dublin 8, Sarsfield Road, Dublin 10, Woodfield Avenue, Dublin 10, Westmoreland Street, Dublin 2, Daleview Road, Ballybrack, Co Dublin, apartments on Main Street, Borrisokane, Co Tipperary and Main Street, Cashel, Co Tipperary, Chapel Hill, Innishannon, Co Cork, and a small housing development at Mangan, Gorey, Co Wexford.

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