Deloitte doing ‘all it can’ for tenants bereft of power or water

Trio in unfit Coombe flat say alternatives on offer are ‘humiliating’

Luis Rivas in his rented apartment in the Coombe, where the electricity and water have been turned off. Photograph:  Dara Mac Donaill

Luis Rivas in his rented apartment in the Coombe, where the electricity and water have been turned off. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Property receivers Deloitte said it will do “all [it] can” to find accommodation for its tenants who have had no electricity or running water since the start of December.

Luis Rivas has rented a small two-bedroom apartment in an old building in the Coombe, Dublin, since 2013. Since 2015 he has shared it with his girlfriend Scarlet Salazar and her brother Roderick.

Their original landlord lost possession of the the building about a year ago and they have been paying €925 rent per month to Deloitte, via O’Dwyer Real Estate Management.

Mr Rivas, from Venezuela, redecorated the apartment and has carried out various repairs, including trying to bleach away and paint over mould in his bedroom.

On December 1st, power failed in the whole building – another tenant lived in an apartment below them. They contacted O’Dwyer and checked into a hotel until electricity was restored.

Safety

“It was repaired three days later, but three days after that the power was gone again.”

When a vacant shop unit on the ground floor was checked it was found to have been flooded. At this point both water and electricity supplies were disconnected for safety.

“We were eating outside, and [ordering] deliveries,” says Mr Rivas. “I work in a hotel and I could clean myself there. My girlfriend and her brother, they go to the gym.”

They bought a two-ring camping stove, and stocked up on bottled water. For warmth, he heats a large ceramic pot on the stove which radiates warmth for a few hours.

“We try not to stay here much, just coffee shops, work and when we come home we have hot-water bottles in bed.”

On December 12th, they contacted the Citizen’s Information Board (CIB). An adviser contacted O’Dwyer, which then offered them an alternative house in Clondalkin. As all three worked shifts in hotels, beginning as early as 6am and finishing as late as 1am, it was unsuitable.

The CIB asked Dublin City Council to inspect the property and is awaiting a report. The board also asked that the tenants’ hotel, food and washing expenses be reimbursed.

On December 14th, the tenants lodged a dispute with the Residential Tenancies Board, to be adjudicated in the new year.

An alternative property was later offered to the three tenants on the basis that they would have to share it with the other tenant in the building.

“We did not know this man,” said Mr Rivas. “My girlfriend was very nervous about sharing with someone she did not know, so we said this was no good for us.” They were also nervous, he said, about losing their tenancy rights accrued over five years if they moved out.

‘Dirty carpets’

On December 20th, Deloitte provided a legal agreement that moving out for the duration of repairs would not affect their rights and reimbursed more than €3,000 expenses. A day later, O’Dwyer offered accommodation in Drumcondra.

“On Saturday we got the keys and I went with the van driver to look at it. The windows were covered with metal shutters. It was totally empty, no furniture, the carpets were dirty. I thought, ‘No, I can’t bring my girlfriend here’.”

She was increasingly distressed, he said, and on Friday he had bought her a ticket home to Barcelona, costing over €200 one way. She is due back in Dublin for work on January 2nd.

He told O’Dwyer the house was unacceptable and was offered another property in Drumcondra to view. “It was the same,” he said, showing photographs of a boarded up house, and inside of broken kitchen units, no furniture, damp on walls, mould in bathroom grouting and piles of rubbish in the back-garden.

“I felt humiliated. It was like we were nothing. I don’t know if they think we are disgusting people just because we share a small apartment.”

He and Roderick spent Christmas Day with friends. “I am okay now because Scarlet is with her family. But when she comes back, I don’t know what we will do.”

A spokeswoman for O’Dwyer said it had offered alternative accommodation, adding that it must get vacant possession of the building to carry out extensive repairs which would take until the end of February.

A Deloitte spokesman said it was “very difficult to source housing at short notice in the current housing crisis” and the company would do “all we can” to source suitable housing.