‘I’m a homeless homeowner’: The apartment owner who is now couch surfing

33-year-old Jeanette Brown is unable to move back into her apartment due to the winter eviction ban

A 33-year-old landlord, who moved abroad for a year but has recently returned home, is couch surfing, and has slept in her car some nights, as she is unable to move back into her apartment due to the eviction ban.

Jeanette Brown bought her apartment in Dublin in 2017. The fashion buyer was recruited abroad in 2021, and accepted a job offer in Dubai, moving in July of that year.

She then rented out her apartment to cover the mortgage while she was living in the Middle East. In July she issued her tenant an eviction notice from Dubai but was told three months later the notice was deemed invalid due to a recent change to rental legislation.

By that time the Government had introduced a moratorium on evictions, meaning if a residential tenant is given an eviction notice by their landlord between the end of October and next March, the eviction will be deferred until April.


As a result Ms Brown is without a home until at least April, though she has concerns the moratorium could be extended further.

The Dubliner said the situation is not the fault of her tenant, whom she feels is also a victim of the housing crisis, but claims the Government should have made an amendment to the legislation to allow for genuine cases like hers.

“It’s beyond my worst nightmare. Every morning, I have to get up and check my phone to see if there is somewhere available for me that evening. I’m in my auntie’s now and I’ll probably be in my nanny’s next week or the week after,” she said.

“The auntie that I’m living with today has a son who has a girlfriend. When he’s in his girlfriend’s, I have a bed. When that’s not viable, I get in touch with other people. People have their own lives, when you’re there with all your clothes and all your things, overcrowding comes with massive tensions.

“I’m after doing all the right things in life. I bought a home, there’s not a day I haven’t worked since I was 18 or 19. I pay my taxes and do all the things I’m supposed to do. I don’t want to be a landlord. They’re making me homeless. I’m living off the grace of other people at the minute.”

Ms Brown said she regularly scrolls through Daft.ie to try to find her own rental accommodation. However, she said has been unable to secure a lease.

“There’s nowhere to rent. You can almost count on one hand what comes up. I don’t hear back from the people advertising the properties. And also, there’s just nothing within my price bracket. There’s a lot of high-end stuff, in Dundrum, Ranelagh or Rathmines, but they’re three, four or five grand a month,” she said.

Ms Brown said she is among the hidden homeless, earning too much to avail of State supports, and “falling between the cracks” of the various services.

“I’m an avoidable case. I’m in the hidden homeless figures because I don’t fall into any bracket. I can’t go on social housing. I’ve contacted the homeless services because I just need someone to talk to. There’s a vacuum created. I am a homeless person who could afford to rent, but there are no properties available and I can’t live in my own home,” she said.

“I left my country that I love for one year, and now I’m locked out of my home. I’m left in a heightened state of anxiety with no home and trying to figure out where I’m going to sleep every evening. I’m a homeless homeowner.”

Ms Brown has contacted the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien about her situation on a number of occasions in recent months.

A response from the Minister’s private secretary last Friday said: “Unfortunately, it was and remains necessary in these uncertain times to strengthen tenancy protections for tenants including for reasons of supply and affordability in the sector. As set out in the previous reply, the Government did seek to balance the interests and tenancy rights of both landlords and tenants under the Act as a whole.”

Asked about Ms Brown’s situation, a spokesman for the Department of Housing said the aim of the legislation to defer terminations is to “mitigate the risk that persons whose tenancies would otherwise be terminated during the winter would be unable to obtain alternative accommodation”.

“The Act has been carefully calibrated to limit its interference with landlords’ constitutional property rights. The Government recognises and appreciates the key role of landlords in providing much-needed accommodation and the pressures on some landlords on foot of the cost of living crisis,” the spokesman said.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times