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Report: Leeside evictions not necessary

Wednesday, 17th January, 2018 5:13pm

An expert report on Cork’s Leeside Apartments complex has concluded that it is not necessary to force tenants to leave in order to carry out fire safety repairs.

The report was carried out by Kieran Spitere of Kieran Spitere Consulting Engineers, who has been dealing with insurance claims including fire safety issues for more than 30 years.

More than 20 households currently face eviction at the hands of Lugus Capital, who manages the building on behalf of private equity fund Bain Capital. Lugus Capital says that notices to quit are necessary to facilitate fire safety repairs.

The Spitere Report found that safety repairs could be carried out without "huge disruption" to tenants. It suggested that tenants may have to be moved for a period of "a week or so" to facilitate works.

The report also says that the layout of the apartments "lends itself well" to the work being undertaken in stages and adds that work “may even be possible for works to be undertaken on individual apartments while they remain occupied”.

The report agreed that fire prevention and protection measures in the building fall short of legal safety requirements, describing the proposed changes as "urgent".

A meeting of Leeside residents held last week decided to facilitate such work, provided that temporary alternative accommodation was of a decent standard and that current lease agreements remain in place.

The Spitere Report was commissioned by Cork North Central Solidarity TD Mick Barry on behalf of the Leeside residents.

Residents' spokespersons Aimee O'Riordan and Gaston Behal said: "We want these fire safety improvements done as a matter of urgency. But this report clearly shows that they can be completed without recourse to evictions. The notices to quit should be withdrawn and the owners should enter into talks with the residents' campaign group to make arrangements for the fire safety work to take place."

Mick Barry TD said: "These residents are not going to accept evictions. I will do my best in the weeks ahead to bring political pressure on this company to withdraw the eviction notices and get down to the important job of sorting out the fire issues in their buildings.”

A statement from Lugus Capital said the apartments “are currently not in compliance with their fire certificates, so the refurbishment is necessary not only to bring the building up to modern standards but also to maintain the safety of the residents”. It said the landlord was “fully complying with the Residential Tenancies Act 2004”.

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