Line of Duty actor joins anti-eviction protest outside Dublin office

Funds business Val Issuer has served notice to quit to tenants in number of older properties

The protest outside the Dublin offices of Val Issuer was organised by People Before Profit. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The protest outside the Dublin offices of Val Issuer was organised by People Before Profit. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The actor Adrian Dunbar was among a small group that held an anti-eviction protest in Dublin on Wednesday outside the offices of an international funds business that has invested in Irish residential property.

The protest, organised by People Before Profit (PBP), was outside the Molesworth Street offices of Val Issuer, a subsidiary of funds management group MaplesFS.

Tenants of a number of older Dublin properties that have been converted into flats have been served with notices to quit from Val Issuer so that the buildings can be refurbished.

Dunbar said he had come to the protest because of the “very worrying” development where large blocks of housing were being turned over to “vulture funds” which had no interest “other than money”.

“You can’t have people being kicked out of their homes. It seems to me like they are making up . . . reasons for asking people to leave so they can occupy the building, and I don’t think that’s fair.”

He said the Government should bring in legislation to close what he believed was a loophole in the law that allowed people be forced out of their homes if the landlord wanted to renovate their building.

The tenants in the buildings bought by Val Issuer “say that the work that needs to be done can be done while they are in situ, and that there is no need that they leave. They have nowhere else to go, by the way,” Dunbar said.

Irina Lapshena, who was one of the four or five tenants who were present at the protest, said she had been living in her studio apartment in a house on Grove Park, Rathmines, Dublin, for 15 years. She pays rent of €450 per month and was served with a notice of termination in August 2018, giving her until April of this year to leave the building.

A decision on her appeal against the notice is pending from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

The notice said the landlord would offer her the opportunity to reoccupy the building at the market rate if certain conditions were met.

Tenancy dispute

Speaking through an interpreter, she said that since she had come to Ireland from Russia in 2002 she had been involved in two workplace disputes and now this tenancy dispute. “There is no human rights for ordinary people in Europe.”

Another tenant of a building owned by Val Issuer, Abu Saleh Chy, said he was paying €1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment in Rosedale Terrace, Dublin 6, where he has been living for 10 years with his wife and two children. The children go to school and have friends locally.

“We were living peacefully in this building until last year, when it was sold,” he said. The new owner served him and other tenants with notices of termination last year but the RTB ruled that they were not valid.

“We are still in fear that they will come again with an eviction notice. I am very much in fear. If I lose the home, I don’t know how I can find anywhere else in Dublin.”

Peter Dooley, of PBP, said Val Issuer was part of the “financialisation of housing”.

“They are forcing people out on the street and that is being facilitated by Fine Gael.”

An anti-eviction Bill that was stalled in its passage through the Oireachtas would stop “refurbishment evictions” and make a massive difference in terms of people’s security of tenure, he said.

He added that Val Issuer had purchased hundreds of older residential properties that had been broken up into flats. He said residents in buildings on Rosedale Terrace, Richmond Street and Grove Park had been served with termination notices or feared being served with such notices.

A request for a comment from MaplesFS and Val Issuer met with no response. MaplesFS is believed to have about 100 employees in Dublin.

The wider Maples Group, which includes law firm Maples and Calder, employs about 350 people here, having almost doubled its workforce over the past four years.

Demand for fund administration services in Dublin is growing, driven in part by Brexit.