A couple served with an eviction order from the Strand apartments in Limerick just after the birth of their baby boy are among dozens of “angry and upset” tenants struggling to find a new home.
Hungarian national Krisztina Berta, 37, her fiancé Angel Catala, 38, from Spain, and their 11-week old baby Christopher, have been ordered to leave their one-bed apartment by April 19. It is due to be sold at auction after a tranche of apartments were acquired by a vulture fund.
They had just left the Maternity hospital on the Ennis Road in Novemberwhen they received the news that they had to leave their home of six years.
“We are just really sad. We love this apartment so much, and are so attached to the place.
“We have looked at other places to live in the city, but there’s huge demand and none of the letting agents have called us back,” Ms Berta told the Limerick Leader.
The couple, who both work for the Clarion hotel on Steamboat Quay, now under the Clayton name, said they had just finished decorating a corner of their apartment for their son when they received a phonecall and a letter ordering them to leave.
“If it was just us on our own, it might be OK. But with a baby now, it’s scary trying to find somewhere new. Why can’t they sell the apartments and leave tenants in place?” she asked.
Currently, the couple have not been able to source alternative accommod- ation.
They are paying €750 a month for their one-bed apartment, though there is an ad on Daft.ie for a similar one-bed apartment for €1,100 a month.
Residents have initiated an online petition, addressed to Housing Minister Simon Coveney, calling for the evictions to be stopped, and rallying against the actions of vulture funds, which are acquiring distressed assets to sell them for a profit.
The petition now has more than 1,100 signatures.
“We also call on Minister Coveney to amend the Residential Tenancies Act to abolish sale of a property as a ground for terminating a tenancy,” it states.
Some 25 apartments in the Strand complex on O’Callaghan Strand have been sold in the past 12 months, after loans acquired by Nama from the company in charge of its development were bought by another company.
The company formerly in charge of the apartments, Sova Properties Ltd, had bank loans of €117m and in August 2010 its loans were transferred to Nama.
The directors of its parent company, Galway developer John Lally’s Lalco Holdings Ltd, entered into an agreement with the National Asset Loan Management Agency in April 2012.
In July 2016, Nalm, a subsidiary of Nama, sold its loan and security interests to OCM EmRu DebtCo DAC, which was incorporated in June 2016, and is a sub- sidiary of Oaktree Capital Management.
The evictions have been taking place on a phased basis over the past year, and the majority of the remaining tenants are due to leave by this April, as further auctions of apartments are due, with units sold to the highest bidder.
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