Hundreds protest against planned evictions of over 20 families

Cork campaigner urges Government to close refurbishment loopholes for landlords

Leeside Apartments  complex in Cork city centre.

Leeside Apartments complex in Cork city centre.

 

About 250 people attended a rally and march in Cork on Saturday in opposition to the planned eviction of more than 20 families from the Leeside Apartments complex on Bachelor’s Quay in Cork city centre. There are currently 23 households in the complex and all have been served with eviction notices.

At the event, Aimee O’Riordan, of the Leeside Anti-Eviction Group, called for the Government to close the loopholes that allow landlords to use refurbishment as an excuse to evict tenants and then charge higher rents when they put the property back on the rental market.

“We are calling on the Government to fight for every tenant and close the eviction loopholes and ban economic evictions like what’s happening to the residents of the Leeside Apartments for as long as the housing emergency remains,” said Ms O’Riordan.

She said the residents of the complex, including many with young families, intend to fight against their evictions as there simply isn’t alternative accommodation available for them. She also called on the Government to introduce a proper public housebuilding programme.

Several political parties attended the event in Patrick Street, including Sinn Féin, the Green Party, the Communist Party and Solidarity, whose TD for Cork North-Central, Mick Barry, had raised the issue of children at the complex being made homeless during a Dáil debate on homelessness.

“I want to express solidarity this Christmas with all people who are homeless and all people who are facing the threat of homelessness and I also want to make my nomination for Ireland’s Scrooge of the Year for 2017,” Mr Barry told the Dáil.

“I think that dishonour must surely go to Lugus Capital, the new owners of the Leeside Apartments in Cork city – this Christmas, this vulture fund is placing the threat of eviction over the heads of . . . households, many with young children, at these apartments.

“What a scandal, threatening to put young children out on the street and the side of the road in order to maximise their own profits,” said Mr Barry, who congratulated the Leeside Apartments residents for choosing to fight their planned evictions.

Refurbishment scheme

Last month, Lugus Capital issued a statement in which it confirmed that it had acquired the 70-unit apartment block in October and that it was planning to carry out a €3 million refurbishment of the property.

Lugus Capital said that as part of its acquisition process, it carried out a full structural survey and fire-safety inspection and found that the apartments in the six-storey complex were not in compliance with their fire certificates.

“The refurbishment is necessary not only to bring the building up to modern standards but also to maintain the safety of the residents,” said the company, adding that it had told all residential tenants of its planned refurbishment.

The company was fully complying with the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004, in terms of issuing the eviction notices to the tenants, said Lugus Capital.