Developer says co-living residents won’t have tenancy rights

by Padraig Conlon
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A company planning to build controversial co-living developments in Dublin say their residents won’t have tenancy rights.

Bartra Capital is claiming the Residential Tenancies Act won’t apply to it because tenants will be sharing kitchens and living spaces.

Last month, it received planning permission from An Bord Pleanala to build the country’s first co-living development, in Dun Laoghaire town centre.

The controversial development of 208 residential units will be located on the site of the former CBS Christian Brother’s school on Eblana Avenue.

According to the Sunday Business Post, Bartra sent a legal memo to Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanala, saying its shared living developments cannot be regulated under the Residential Tenancies Act.

The Act enforces a 4% rent cap in rent pressure zones, and allows residents to bring disputes to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

In response to an enquiry from Dublin Gazette, Bartra Capital said: “In terms of the regulation under the Residential Tenancies Act or otherwise, that is a matter for the Department of Housing.”

Bartra has filed plans to build more than 500 shared living bedspaces across Dublin so far.

In June, it had a setback when one of its planned developments, which was to be located in Tallaght and have more than 200 units, was refused planning permission by the Bord.

Sinn Fein’s housing spokesperson, Eoin O Broin, says he has seen the correspondence sent by Bartra to DCC.

Talking to Dublin Gazette, he said: “I have read the memo and it is very weak.

“However, it is very worrying and demonstrates that companies like Bartra will do everything they can to get around the regulations.

“Minister [for Housing Eoghan] Murphy must make a statement on the matter and commit to amending the RTA [Residential Tenancies Act], if necessary.”

A spokesperson for The Department of Housing told Dublin Gazette its focus is on protecting the rights of longer-term tenants.

They said: “The Minister has already said he will keep every aspect of co-Living under review as it develops, given that it is a new concept to Ireland.

“It is important to understand that this is for a very small cohort of people, many of whom may only be looking for short- or flexible-lease arrangements.

“The main focus has been, and remains, on protecting tenants’ rights in the longer-term rental market, and radical reforms in this regard were enacted before the Summer [Dail] break.

“The focus on the build side remains on homes, houses and apartments, which comprise 100% of all new-build [projects] this year,” they said.

A spokesperson for the Residential Tenancies Board told Dublin Gazette that each co living arrangement would need to examined on a case by case basis to understand if they are covered by the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act.  

“There are many different arrangements in place for co-living developments,” they said.

“Therefore each case would need to be measured on its own merit to determine if a tenancy exists as defined by the Act.

“Without sight of a tenancy/lease agreement or an understanding of how the arrangements operate in practice you cannot determine if a tenancy exists within the meaning of the Act.

“It is important to note that merely labelling something a licence does not mean it is one and therefore we would encourage anyone who wishes to clarify their rights to contact us,” the spokesperson concluded.

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