A group of residents at an apartment complex in south Dublin say they now fear they'll be left without a home in just a matter of weeks, amid a long-running eviction row with their landlords.
Remaining residents - including elderly sick people and a family with a child with special needs - at St Helen's Court in Dun Laoghaire now face eviction in four weeks' time.
There are 26 apartments in the block, and 20 of them have changed ownership on a number of occasions in recent times.
While several apartments have been vacant in recent years, the current owners now want to evict the remaining eight residents so the apartments can be refurbished and sold on for a substantial profit.
Under current legislation, there is nothing the residents can do to avoid being evicted.
However, with the eviction date looming, they're struggling to find somewhere else to live.
They're currently paying an average rent of €800-900, and would be prepared to pay increased rent if they could stay in St Helen’s Court.
However, they say that's not an option that's being given to them.
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder's Barry Whyte, Tony Geraghty said he has been living at St Helen's Court for over ten years.
He said: "It’s very scary - the thoughts of homelessness looming. There aren’t many places available for rent, and there are very few of them that are actually affordable.
“There’s nothing affordable this side of Arklow.
"At one stage a few years ago I even thought about taking a small cabin that was advertised outside of Gorey, simply because the rent was affordable.
“I’m a healthcare assistant… adding an extra three hours driving to my working day wasn’t practical.”
He said emergency accommodation simply won't suit some of the residents, including a 'quite ill' elderly couple.
"We’re willing to negotiate"
Sean Mitchell, another resident, says the owners of the apartments were not even prepared to negotiate on rent.
He explained: “It’s not about the rent we’re paying at the moment - these rents we’ve been paying for the last four years… we’re willing to negotiate with them.
“They just wanted us out from day one… we’ve got a month to get out from today. There’s nowhere to rent around Dun Laoghaire… there’s eight of us at it, and we can’t find anywhere.
"We’re snookered - we can’t find anything in our price range.”
Under existing laws, landlords can cannot terminate ten or more residencies if they intend to sell them within six months.
Back in May 2019, St Helen's Court residents couldn't be evicted because there were ten or more of them.
However, since some of those have since moved out, the remaining people can now be evicted - and the eviction notices have been deemed valid.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett claims the residents are now facing the 'very real possibility' of homelessness unless authorities step in.
He said: “I believe the Government and council between them should step in in this situation - use compulsory purchase powers if necessary - to take over this apartment block and prevent these evictions, and indeed allow the empty units to be used for people who really need social and affordable housing.”
However, he said ultimately the Government needs to cut off the legislative loopholes that allow for such 'unjust evictions'.