Minister intervened in row over evictions from Limerick's Strand apartments

FOI shows Simon Coveney wrote to John Lally of Sova Properties

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Minister intervened in row over evictions from Limerick's Strand apartments

The Strand Apartments in Limerick Picture: Press 22

TERMINATION notices served on more than a dozen residents at the Strand apartments earlier this year were withdrawn a day after Minister Simon Coveney wrote to the owners of the properties, it can be revealed.

Documents released to this newspaper following a Freedom of Information request show Mr Coveney wrote to John Lally of Sova Properties Ltd on January 12, last – less than a week after news of the notices first entered into the public domain.

In his two-page letter, the minister refers to the government’s strategy for the rental sector which was published in December.

“Increasing security for both tenants and landlords is essential to the development of the rented sector as an attractive choice for tenants and a safe and viable investment choice for a range of investors,” he wrote.

After confirming his intention to commence the so-called “Tyrrlestown amendment” the minister stated: “It is my expectation that your organisation and other organisation involved in the transaction would respect the spirit of the new legislation and avoid unnecessarily impacting on tenants as a result of any purchase transaction.”

In a reply to the officer of the minister – dated January 13, 2017 –  Sova Properties Ltd confirmed that it would “fully respect” the spirit of the proposed legislative changes.

“For the avoidance of doubt and to further reassure both the Minister and tenants of the Strand apartments Sova is today writing to tenants to withdraw all termination notices that are currently outstanding in respect of a small number of tenants at the Strand apartments in Limerick city,” stated the letter. 

The company also confirmed that it would be advising tenants that “any future process to progress apartment sales would fall firmly within the new legislation”.

The letter added that tenants would be informed that any sales “would be progressed in a measured and considered manner and at a pace that would enable those tenants wishing to purchase apartments at market price to do so”.

Prior to the decision of Sova Properties to withdraw the termination notices, more than 2,500 people had signed an online petition calling for the evictions to be halted.