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‘Unscrupulous landlords’ taking advantage of crisis

Labour leader Ivana Bacik has accused “unscrupulous landlords” of taking advantage of the rental crisis.

During Leaders Questions in the Dáil, she referred to the case of Marc Godart, a Luxemburg investor, accused of unlawful evictions, failing to pay compensation to former tenants who won cases at the Residential Tenancies Board, summarily firing workers and subjecting those working for him to ruthless working conditions.

Referring to reports from the Irish Times, Ms Bacik said that Mr Godart was trying to recruit people to “act as fronts for his property empire”, to get others to use their identities to set up Airbnb accounts.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said reports on Mr Godart’s conduct were “shocking”.

He paid tribute to the work of Naomi O’Leary of the Irish Times for her reporting on Marc Godart.

Mr Martin said that the corporate enforcement authority would likely be interested in the revelations in terms of shadow Airbnb accounts and concerns around labour law.

He told the Dáil that there might be a role for the Workplace Relations Commission, in relation to people employed by Mr Godart.

“Their only crime was to allow inspectors from Dublin City Council in to inspect the premises,” he said.

He said a range of authorities might have an interest in this case, which might include gardaí.

Separately, Ms Bacik criticised the delay at European Commission level in implementing Airbnb regulation legislation.

Mr Martin said that the European Commission has sought further time in relation to the implementation of short-term tourism letting legislation. He described the delay as “frustrating”.

House prices

Meanwhile, the Government has come under pressure in the Dáil from Sinn Féin over rising house prices.

Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said data from the Central Statistics Office showed property prices were now higher then they were during the Celtic Tiger era.

He said the Government had missed their targets for affordable housing in previous years and asked if it had been missed last year as well.

He said too many people were forced into expensive rentals and people were being forced to emigrate to Canada and Australia.

In response Mr Martin accused Sinn Féin of proposing scrapping the Help to Buy scheme which he said helped thousands of first time buyers.

“I would warn people not to vote for the abolition of the Help to Buy scheme,” he said.

“Where the hell is your plan? You produced nothing in four years.”

Additional reporting by David Murphy

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