By Finn McKenna
Tomorrow, the eviction notice that was served in October to the residents of Tathony House (Kilmainham) will be brought into effect. On 2 June, the owners of Tathony Holdings Limited, Ronan and Brendan McDonnell, expect the remaining residents to vacate their homes.
The callousness of these landlords cannot be understated – they are happy to evict a cancer patient, a retail worker, a community worker, and an elected councillor. To be clear, no one deserves to be coerced into homelessness, but that is precisely what the profiteering O’Donnells are hellbent on doing, along with many other landlords and vulture funds.
The Tathony House residents have engaged in many tactics to highlight their struggle. This includes press conferences, media interviews, engaging with the RTB, protests at Dublin City Council, and protests outside Tathony House itself. The self-organisation of the Tathony House tenants deserves to be commended, and much of what they’ve done and what they’ve pledged to do offers a good example for tenants facing similar situations. Thousands of tenants the length and breadth of the country are facing a deluge of evictions now that the eviction ban has been lifted by this landlord-loving government.
Overholding is crucial
The Tathony House residents have indicated that they intend to overhold. In short, overholding means that tenants who have been served eviction notices refuse to adhere to the eviction order. Overholding in its earliest stages is not a criminal matter, but a civil one. The tactic of overholding is one that needs to be seriously considered by all those who face homelessness thanks to the greed of their landlords. If you are facing eviction onto the streets because your landlord is turfing you out, you can and should refuse to vacate. You can and should stay put.
Dublin City Council has stated that it has contacted Tathony Holdings Limited five times but has not heard back from the proprietors. There is an urgency for popular pressure to be mounted on local authorities for them to compulsorily purchase properties in the interests of tenants.
At press conferences and protests, the tenants of Tathony House have examined the Tyrrelstown amendment. The tenants have stated that the Tyrrelstown amendment, a law introduced in 2017, should protect tenants from mass eviction. However, they also say the problem is that it has no teeth. Under the amendment, a landlord cannot terminate ten or more tenancies or units within a single development over six months in order to sell the property. But there are loopholes that favour landlords; e.g. if the landlord can prove the market value of the property would be lowered by 20% if the tenants remained in situ, or if the application of the amendment would cause hardship to the landlord. The Tyrrelstown amendment is a potential avenue forward, yet it can only be pushed through in this particular case if mass pressure from below forces the state to put it into effect.
Community support essential
By linking up with the local branch of CATU, the Tathony House residents have built up support in their community for their struggle to remain in their homes. This, combined with the overholding approach, is perhaps the most important course of action for tenants facing homelessness to take at this juncture. If tenants campaign in their area, establish connections with their neighbours and organise an active, emergency response ahead of any landlord-organised eviction attempt, they are in with a far greater chance to resist the eviction.