Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Gardai take part in illegal evictions.

Evictions are an emotive subject in Ireland. At least, the evictions carried out by British landlords in the 19th century are. Irish people don't appear to be too bothered by the phenomena these days - not now that we have our own indigenous class of bad landlords and willing rackrenters.

During the boom, when the new Irish Section 23 landlord class was living it up, it was not uncommon for a tenant to be hit with a large increase in the rent when their contract was up for renewal - usually after a year. Many people had to hastily look for new digs when this happened, as they were unable to afford the rent demanded. I think that's the definition of "rackrenting".

Irish landlords are amongst the worst in Europe, simply because they are allowed to be. People who rent all their lives on the continent enjoy a security of tenure that Irish tenants, in private rented accommodation, could never imagine.

There was such a thing as a protected tenant in Ireland up until the late 70s / early 80s, when a landlord called Madigan had the courts decide that the concept of a protected tenant was a breach of landlords' constitutional rights. As a result, the lot of the private tenant is a precarious one in Ireland.

Worse still, it seems that present-day Irish landlords are carrying out illegal evictions, and are getting a helping hand from members of the police force to carry out their dirty work. It is not clear in what capacity gardai are doing this, either as favours for friends or under public order pretexts.

According to yesterday's Irish Times, the Garda Ombudsman has received about "20 complaints or allegations that gardai illegally assisted in the eviction of tenants". The former Garda commissioner had to send a directive to superintendents last year “reminding members of the force not to attend or participate in illegal evictions”.

It seems that it is illegal to force a tenant from his/her home in the absence of a Circuit Court order, as evictions can only take place through the local county sheriff and cannot be carried out directly by a landlord.

The Irish Times piece quotes Kevin Baneham of Threshold, the tenants’ rights group, as saying that most people threatened with eviction have not breached their tenancy obligations: “in many cases they relate to tenants who say they asked their landlord to carry out repairs or provide their PPS number”. According to Threshold, many of its clients have ended up sleeping rough on the streets or in cars as a result of landlords' actions.

So the next time you hear some barstool bore banging on about the evictions of a century-and-a-half ago, you might ask them to explain how a State that ostensibly came into existence as a reaction to such injustices, pays such scant regard to the welfare of its tenants today?

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anna said...

hear , hear!!!!I said elsewhere on this blog, i have had experineces with Dublin Landlords I Never had in 20+ yrs of renting in NI, Guernsey and England: V interested to see tenants once had more right here till a noble Irish landlord decided to insist on his 'constitutionsl 'rights....
In my 1st 9 years in Dublin I had 3 residences- and took 2 of those landlords, both millionairs to small claims court. Then I left for NI, for 3 yrs, and moved back in Summer 2009: for a no of reasons I had to move 5 times in 1.5 yrs- out of that came Three tenancy board cases- the Only reason it wasn't 5 cases was for a few weeks i stayed briefly with friends- and one of those houses is the one i am in now, a V decent landlord.
My curent home is a wonderful large victorian one, wonderful location and garden, BUT V chilly at times- however i will stay put until I buy a flat this autumn- as encountering another scum landlord chills my blood as much as the cold. Hell, I won my 3 tenancy board claims ( 1 drunken abusive lady who I sublet off , had even assualted me - but i finally got my deposit 1 yr after i moved out).
And i won a case against Another landlady before Xmas- she has Now sent 40 euro appeal fee to tenancy baord - she won't win the appeal - it's just to deny me my money a few months longer- so again I will be getting a deposit back well over a year after moving out,. This same lady Laura had originally claimed i should pay her all a years rent even afer i moved out- AND she had another person in the room! A cool additional 4500 euro!! NOW WHY did we get our own nation- why to stop those nasty Brits expoiting us poor Irish peasants of course!!!

Dakota said...

There is many bad Landlords but there's equally as many good. It goes the same for tenants. Even now.
I know a good friend who is a Landlord and it's not a bed of roses! Far from it. Some tenants are just bad people, who fool, there way into your property and systematically go about trying to destroy it. There is bad on either side of this debate. In many cases the law is stacked in favour of the tenants. That being said, there is a significant group of Landlords who did get into the letting game over the last 15 years, who are just egotistical, smarmy gits, who are nothing less than playgroud bullies. This caste, and the phalic developers not only destroyed this nation, they now have equally stupid politicians telling the population that they are going to RAISE TAXES, establish water and property levies, all at a time of precedented austerity. Really it's the makings of an oscar winning carry-on movie. (Woops, the crap for brains might think thats a good thing - it's not).

As for that news article you cite, I didn't hear it through other media but as ever the way in ROI, it's what actually goes on under the radar which is the reality.

Ella said...

Hi GM, here is the article from the IT for your readers who may have missed it.

@ Dakota, tis true what you say about good/bad landlords and good/bad tenants. A colleague of mine is a landlord and about 5-6 years ago he had a house let out and the tenants were not paying rent (about 4 months in arrears). As he had a substantial mortgage on the property he was under considerable financial pressure. What did he do? Sent a friend around who posed as a "work man". Said work man removed both the front and back doors of the property and took them away. The tenants left the next morning. Illegal well most definitely I'd say, effective, well he never heard from the tenants again. Yet another colleague has an investment property and by all accounts is the landlady from hell, does no repairs, can be weeks fixing the washing machine and the like. Current tenants are thinking of either moving out or stopping payment of rent. mmm. Myself I kind of find it hard to sympathise with landladies/lords, well particularly those who bought houses as investments, thereby pushing up house prices for the rest of us. And to hear them talk, well the problem of "owning" 3 properties and having a void, well Padraic Flynn is not in it!

Anonymous said...

Ive seen both sides of this as well , my own experience of landlords through my years in university and living in dublin is that many of them go out of their way not to give back deposits , dont reply to texts or answer phones or come back with lame reasons to hold on to the deposit . My father rents a property close to a university to students , sometimes he has a nice bunch in and all goes smoothly and sometimes he gets guys who are dishonest and try to get people into rooms for free , carve things into tables with knives , leave him to clean wads of ancient used bloodied condoms from under the bed , smash furniture ,stain carpets and then they come at him with the backing of some tenants quango group and with a solicitors demand for full damage deposits . I will say though that a swedeish friend of mine who lived in dublin was absolutely appalled by the standard of rented accomodation for the price asked , mouldy , cold grimey , small rooms .

Anonymous said...

A Little off Topic
At a communal do at lunch time today a TV reporter was signing of from the Middle East. He said “This is Tom D.... in Amman, Jordan”. My elderly neighbour aged 89 rushed out of the kitchen and shouted: “What man? What man? What the hell is she up to now?

NOTE: No disrespect is intended about the seriousness of the Middle East Situation.

The Gombeen Man said...

Sure folks - you've good and bad landords and good and bad tenants, but the consequences of the behaviour of bad landlords on good tenants is what concerns me here. And, of course, the idea of our upholders-of-law-and-order participating in illegal evictions...

Dakota said...

Yep Gombeen man we all come at this from different viewpoints. I can see exactly what you're saying and I acknowledge it! Of course you're right, wrong is wrong, is wrong. Evil is evil. But hey we live in the land where wrong is right, anyway. Just to qualify this heard on Prime Time tonight that Fine Gael are going to (potentially) cut some of the tax reliefs which Landlords can use to write off legitimate expenses. This is a common practice in most other juristictions. Nothing special. Legitimate business expenses, which most other businesses can write off. But what are Fine Gael saying? They want to effectively shaft Landlords? Madness another party just clamouring for browne points from an imaginary electorate. Bizzare!!! A whole section of the community are going to be (potentially) shafted. I can see why. They are an easy target! It's so obvious....Most of them are being cruicified as it is with taxes!

Gombeen Man, when I see a wrong, I call it as I see it (not very Irish). I stand up and say it for what it is!
It's always the way on this putrid isle the easiest target always gets it.......be that the unemployed, low wage earners, middle income, householders etc.
The interview was comical as Fine Gael actually looked and sounded like Sine Fein, who would have believed it. Bizzare! It was only a few weeks ago that Finna Fail were looking and sounding comical by undermining their electoral base. Now it's Fine Gael. This was on Prime Time TV (excuse the pun)...Irish politics is the weirdest on the planet....

Anonymous said...

Good points all round but just to mention some good gardai. Last week I witnessed a set-to between a landlord over the road and his tenants who arrived back to find him putting their stuff on the drive. Things got heated quickly and the gardai were called. They arrived pronto and I'd hate to think what would have happened if they had not, or if they had got picky about whether they should be there.