Dublin tenants told to leave fire hazard building in less than two weeks

The young adults, all from outside Ireland, said they had no idea they were living in an unauthorised structure and now face homelessness

A group of 27 tenants, who share three toilets, two showers and one kitchen, have been told they must leave the prefab building in Dublin 8 in which they rent rooms, in less than two weeks as it is a fire hazard.

The young adults, all of whom are from outside Ireland, say they had no idea they were living in an unauthorised structure and are now “totally desperate” as they face homelessness.

The owner of the two-storey structure at 10 Liberty Lane, off Camden Street, is business-owner Cathal Garrad, with an address in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. He has been charging the tenants, most of whom are working and studying, between €500 and €600 a month plus about €50 each for bills. They are inhabiting narrow, single rooms.

Dublin City Council (DCC) has ordered Mr Garrad to cease letting rooms by December 16th, and to remove “the unauthorised development comprising a two-storey structure of approx, 320 sq metres” by 28th February 2023.


Tenants who spoke to The Irish Times show messages from Mr Garrad into their WhatsApp group, dated 15th November, attaching a notice from DCC telling him to cease the use of the “unauthorised structure ... as residential accommodation”.

Mr Garrad tells them: “All rooms need to be vacated by 18.00 on Sunday 20th November. That’s five days’ time ... I’m really sorry about this. I have tried everything. There is a war on tenants and landlords in this city.”

After they appealed to him, saying such short notice was “just impossible” he appears to have sought advice from Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB). In a message into the group on 17th November he says “the fire engineer” advised if communal areas were cleared and five fire doors fitted, they may stay until December 9th.

An email, also dated November 17th, from DFB to Mr Garrad, reminds him he has a “duty of care for fire safety under section 18(2) of the Fire Service Act 1981 and 2003 ‘to take all reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire’“.

He is advised to “reduce the fire load as much as possible” by clearing communal areas of white goods and storage and telling residents not to use electrical sockets in these areas. He is asked to confirm when “the building is fully decanted”.

Valero Serrano (23) from Spain, who has lived in the corrugated metal structure since December 2021, showed The Irish Times around. The ground floor has a large entrance from which, says Mr Serrano, a dining table and chairs were removed after November 17th. Off it are a kitchen, a shower/toilets room, and a corridor of bedrooms.

The kitchen has four two-ring hobs, two ovens, two microwaves and one sink. A CCTV camera looks over the room. The shower-room has two working showers and three toilet cubicles.

An outdoor staircase leads to more bedrooms on the first floor, where Mr Serrano shows his. It is about two metres wide. His bed is a metal box with a thin, single mattress. He bought a small desk, chair and bin.

“This is one of the biggest rooms. I pay €500. I was glad when I found this because the situation for renting is not good outside. The people here, we are a community.”

He works “in the food industry” and came to Ireland to improve his English.

Sol Talamo (39) from Argentina, has a narrower room, with the same metal box and thin mattress. She is studying and permitted to work 20 hours’ a week, bringing home €275 a week from a job in IT. Her rent is €500 a month.

“I am here in this place a year and a half,” says Ms Talamo. “The maximum I can pay is maybe €650. I have to keep some money to pay my college.” Despite the orders that they leave, she would prefer to stay at least until after Christmas.

Mr Serrano says he would like to stay, but will go as he is “not comfortable here any more”.

Ms Talamo has contacted DCC appealing for help, and was advised to contact the Residential Tenancies Board, which she planned to do this week.

Bríd Smith TD, who was contacted by another resident, had not seen the structure, but said the situation was “disgraceful”.

“It shows how terrible how the rental market is out there that some of the residents are in fact desperate to stay,” she said. “It’s just disgraceful. What kind of a reputation does it gives us internationally? Most of these young people are coming from other EU states. They must be horrified at what goes on here in terms of housing.”

Mr Garrad, when contacted by The Irish Times, said he would communicate only through his solicitor, but would not provide his solicitor’s name or contact details. Asked if his solicitor could contact The Irish Times, he said: “Cheers,” and hung up. He did not respond to follow-up messages or contacts by phone, WhatsApp or email.

Dublin City Council had been asked for a comment.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times