Homeowner renting 16 beds in three rooms for up to €445 each

Young women sharing Dublin house told they have few rights as owner lives there too

Dublin City Council is investigating the renting out by a homeowner of 16 bunk beds, in three bedrooms, to young women for up to €445 each a month.

The bunk beds are being let in the Portobello home of film and radio documentary-maker Eamon McElwee, who is also living in the house.

He made it sound nice. I thought I'd see how it goes. I paid my deposit in cash

An advertisement for the property on the Gumtree website offers: “Bunk beds . . . for rent in shared bedrooms in 3-bedroom house with garden in Downtown.

“The bedrooms are all located upstairs and come with big windows so they receive plenty of light.


“The shared area is the open layout kitchen and living room that comes fully furnished and equipped for shared living. There is 1 bathroom, 1 ensuite bathroom, and 1 toilet room,” the advert says.

The “preferred gender” is female.

Assuming 90 per cent occupancy throughout the year, the bunk beds would bring in more than €6,000 a month, or more than €72,000 a year.

Although there is clear overcrowding in the house, Mr McElwee is not breaching any tenancy rights. As he lives in the house, he is exempt from landlord-tenant legislation.

A former resident, a young Brazilian woman working as a carer, who was paying €420 a month for a bunk in a room with five others, says she was “really desperate” when she took a bed in the house last November.


She says Mr McElwee told her the house was “really quiet, really organised”.

“He made it sound nice. I thought I’d see how it goes. I paid my deposit in cash.”

She says he only accepted rent in cash.

“To be honest I was so relieved I found somewhere. I got a bottom bunk so I hung sheets around my bed, like curtains, for a bit of privacy.”

She says she was allowed to wash one load of laundry a week, and showers were rationed.

She got half a shelf in a fridge and a small shelf space in the kitchen.

All the other women – apart from one “young Irish girl, she was about 18” – were from abroad.

"They were from France, Mexico, China, Brazil. Some had hardly any English."

She has provided photographs showing bunk beds crowded beside narrow lockers. Green blinds are over the windows, which she says, were to be kept closed at all times.

A visit to the property on Monday found 21 full bags of rubbish in the front garden. All blinds were down.

A young Irish woman said Mr McElwee was not at home, but she confirmed the accommodation on offer was bunk beds with “roughly five other people in the room”.

Frying pan

The former tenant, who says she was given two weeks’ notice to leave after she asked Mr McElwee to buy a frying pan so she could cook a steak, sought advice from Citizens Information.

She was told she had very few rights. As Mr McElwee lived in the home, he did not have to register as a landlord with the Residential Tenancies Board, to provide a rent book or to provide a minimum standard of accommodation.

However, Dublin City Council is investigating Mr McElwee’s property in relation to compliance with fire and safety regulations.

There is no record of Mr McElwee having applied for permission for change of use of the house for hostel type accommodation.

Mr McElwee did not respond to emails, texts or phone calls from The Irish Times.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times