‘I can’t sleep. I can’t eat’: south Dublin family facing eviction ‘due to apartment management fee’

Family and landlord’s representative say council backed out of tenant-in-situ purchase due to €3,600 annual fee

With just weeks to go before his family is due to be evicted from their rented home in Sandyford, Dublin, Bashir Barat finds himself in what has become an all-too-familiar situation.

“Our landlord sent a notice of termination letter in January because he wants to sell. We have sent hundreds of emails on Daft.ie, but no one even replies to us. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. When I’m working, all I can think about is my family is about to be homeless,” he says.

As an August 2nd eviction date looms, the growing panic around his situation is compounded by a deep frustration, because, while Barat’s landlord is willing to sell to the local authority under the tenant-in-situ scheme, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is not willing to buy.

According to Barat, and his landlord’s representative, John Cody, the council had initially been keen to buy the two-bedroom apartment at Beacon Court in Sandyford at a valuation of €367,000. However, several weeks into the process the council backed out of the purchase, citing, Barat and Cody say, the expense of the annual €3,600 management fee.


Apartment owners must, under law, pay annual management fees for the maintenance of their apartment complex. Bashir’s landlord paid the fee for his apartment. The council also owns several apartments in the Beacon development that would be subject to similar annual charges.

Barat came to Ireland from Afghanistan as an asylum seeker in 2007 and was granted refugee status in 2008. He has mainly lived in the Dublin City Council local authority area and is on that council’s housing waiting list, but since 2021 he has lived in the Beacon complex with his wife, Asefa Akbari, and their children, Hanna (5) and Ranna (3).

When they received notice to quit last January, they immediately began searching for somewhere new, but could not secure any viewings. Then, in April, Barat heard about the tenant-in-situ scheme and contacted the council.

The scheme, which was renewed by the Government earlier this year, allows local authorities to buy homes from landlords who have given notice to tenants in receipt of State supports such as the housing assistance payment (HAP) or are in the rental accommodation scheme (RAS). Figures supplied by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in recent days show it has acquired three properties to date.

“Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown told me I needed to confirm my eligibility for the tenant in situ scheme with Dublin City Council, because I was on their housing waiting list. I did that and I had Dublin City Council send that confirmation to Dún Laoghaire County Council.”

Barat is a HAP tenant, which covers about two-thirds of his €2,000 monthly rent, the remainder of which he pays himself.

“The landlord filled in the form, and the council came and did an inspection of the property. I was happy. I thought everything was going to be okay now. Then I heard they were going to refuse it because of the service charge,” he says. “I offered to pay half the fee. I am a taxi driver and I could work more hours. But they still said no.”

In an email exchange with Barat, the council responded: “Regrettably tenants sharing the cost of management fees is not possible.”

He lodged an appeal with the council but was told its position had not changed and he should contact the city council so that a homeless assessment could be carried out.

“Dún Laoghaire [council] says because they don’t want to buy the apartment I have to go to a different council for emergency accommodation, but it doesn’t make sense to take my family into homeless accommodation in Dublin city, when my landlord will sell to the council in Dún Laoghaire.”

Cody says his experience of dealing with the council during the sales process for the Beacon Court apartment was “excellent” at first.

“I got a call from [the council] asking me if I was happy to go with the valuation of €367,000. I said I was, and I got another call within a day saying they were on the way up to inspect it and I thought, Wow, these guys are moving fast, which is great,” he says. “They inspected it, and everything was good and they said they would send it up to the next level to be approved, and I thought that’s as efficient as anything I’ve ever come across.”

Cody presumed the council was working through the sales process, but unexpectedly, about three weeks ago, he got a call to say the deal was off.

“They said the annual maintenance fee was too strong for them. I can understand when a council takes on an apartment they are paying a management fee that’s out of their control, and they might be reluctant because of that, and the charge is slightly high, but it’s not mad money. It’s 1 per cent of the cost of the apartment,” he adds.

A spokesman for Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council says it does not comment on individual cases, but: “When acquiring a property regard has to be given to the acquisition cost, ongoing charges, condition and suitability and any one of these may result in an acquisition not proceeding”.

In addition to the three properties the council has bought through the tenant-in-situ scheme, further properties are at various stages of the acquisition process. “Management charges are liable to be paid on a number of these properties.”

Dublin council’s say service charges not a barrier to purchases

Dublin local authority housing managers says annual services charges are not a barrier to the purchase of apartments under the tenant-in-situ scheme.

The Department of Housing in March issued new targets to local authorities to buy 1,500 homes this year from landlords who have given notice to tenants who are in receipt of State supports such as the housing assistance payment (HAP) or are in the rental accommodation scheme (RAS).

In the Dublin area in particular, many of the properties offered for sale are apartments where annual service charges must be paid by their owners.

Coilín O’Reilly, Dublin City Council’s head of housing, said the local authority has not refused to acquire any tenant in situ properties on the basis of service charges or management fees.

“Management fees are not a criteria Dublin City Council uses in our decision making matrix for tenant-in-situ purchases. Acquisitions including tenant-in-situ purchases are assessed on the basis of the market value, the condition of the property, and overall value for money. We don’t look at management fees separately.”

The city council has completed 36 tenant-in-situ purchases to date and has agreed sales for 181.

Fingal County Council has closed seven sales and around 100 more properties are in the conveyancing process or under negotiation with landlords. Robert Burns, head of housing in Fingal, says management charges have not presented a problem.

“We are dealing with these purchases on a case by case basis and that hasn’t come up for us,” he says. “There are other reasons a sale wouldn’t go through - it could be that the valuation is off, or very significant works are required that would bring it outside cost guidelines, but management fees would not block purchases. But every local authority has to look at purchases to see if they’re sustainable on a case by case basis.”

Local authorities were taking “a very pragmatic and flexible approach” to the scheme, he says. “We are all trying to find ways that we can operate within the spirit of the scheme because the alternative is another set of challenges for local authorities and that’s to have to find emergency accommodation for people.”

A spokesman for the Department of Housing said It was a matter for individual local authorities to identify suitable acquisitions in line with local circumstances and their social housing allocations policy.

“In the case of single unit apartments where a service or management fee is in place, the delegated sanction provides local authorities with the authority to proceed with an acquisition, without seeking the prior approval of the department.”