Cork residents call for licensing system for landlords amid Covid-19 parties

Garda, HSE representatives write to landlords on their responsibilities during pandemic

A resident in Cork protesting last weekend against house parties in the area. Photograph: Catherine Clancy

A resident in Cork protesting last weekend against house parties in the area. Photograph: Catherine Clancy

 

Residents living near University College Cork (UCC) have called for a licensing system for landlords amid continued concerns over students and others holding parties in rented houses near the university during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Catherine Clancy of the Magazine Road and Surrounding Areas Residents Association said that residents believed the best way to tackle the issue of lockdown parties taking place in rented houses is for landlords to be licensed.

“We are calling for the licensing of landlords – there should be something along the lines of an NCT [National Car Test] for rented properties where there is a certain criteria to be checked and approved before they can be rented out.

“Landlords who consistently abuse local regulations and facilitate the anti-social behaviour of tenants with respect to the community must face substantial fines,” said Ms Clancy, a former lord mayor of Cork.

According to the Magazine Road and Surrounding Areas Residents Association, students moved into rented houses around UCC and continued having parties during the Covid-19 lockdown despite Government guidelines on social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Ms Clancy welcomed news that An Garda Síochána, the HSE and Cork City Council have written to 40 landlords who own 200 properties around UCC to point out their responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the letter, Dr Anne Sheehan, specialist in public health medicine at HSE South, Garda Chief Supt Barry McPolin and Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty stressed to landlords how important it was that their tenants complied with all guidelines.

“As you may be aware from extensive media reporting, the residents in the greater College Road, Magazine Road and Glasheen Road area have raised legitimate concerns over the ongoing house parties by tenants of some of the rented properties within this area,” they said.

“Over the last two weeks or so, the residents have endured ongoing parties, primarily in rented accommodation, apparently occupied by students and young people, well into the early hours of the morning.”

Breaching guidelines

The letter said that gardaí have visited many of the rented properties concerned and witnessed up to 30 people congregating in houses in breach of the Covid-19 guidelines.

While the 2km limit and the later 5km limit on travel as part of measures to combat the pandemic have now been lifted, there are still limits on the numbers attending gatherings, with outdoor groupings limited to 15 people and indoor meetings limited to six people.

“The residents are rightly concerned that these parties may aid the spread of the Covid-19 disease with obvious consequences for the elderly/vulnerable residents of the area,” said Dr Sheehan, Mr McPolin and Ms Doherty.

They said they were calling on landlords to actively engage with their tenants and stress to them the importance of complying with Government regulations and guidelines to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“You will appreciate the impact of non-compliance of the guidelines by your tenants, which may include contributing to and/or increasing the spread of the disease, a disease which the country has succeeded in suppressing thus far.

“It must be stressed to the tenants that these activities can directly endanger the health of vulnerable persons either in the community or in their own or their friends’ immediate families.

“None of us wants to be responsible for contributing in any way to the spread of the virus, leading to serious illness or death,” said the three signees of the letter, before appealing to landlords to co-operate with statutory agencies.

“The chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has clearly advised the public that we cannot be complacent; that we must continue with the guidelines on social distancing and regulations on gatherings etc.

“If we fail to do so, the infection rate will increase and the steps taken to date to reopen our country may be halted, impacting significantly on our health service and hospital capacity, employment, our economy and the greater good of all citizens.

“While a specific complaint may not have been made in respect of a property that you own or manage, we believe it is important local residents’ concerns are raised by us with all landlords, and in turn, by landlords with their tenants,” the letter said.