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'Fast buck' Kerry councillors fear landlords are evicting tenants to profit from Ukrainian refugee crisis

Cllr Flynn said the number of people – including families – in the Mid-Kerry area who have been served notices to quit is “out of control”, and he receives phone calls “daily” from those who’ve received such notices.

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Fine Gael Councillor Mike Kennelly hopes landlords are not looking to make “a fast buck” from the Ukrainian refugee crisis as he told Friday’s full Kerry County Council meeting of an 85-year-old tenant who has received a notice to quit.

Councillors were unanimous in their sympathy for Ukrainian refugees and in their praise for efforts to help them, but several councillors raised similar concerns to Cllr Kennelly’s at Friday’s meeting.

These included Fianna Fáil Councillor John Francis Flynn. Cllr Flynn said the number of people – including families – in the Mid-Kerry area who have been served notices to quit is “out of control”, and he receives phone calls “daily” from those who’ve received such notices.

“I’ve had landlords of them (sic) houses asking me how much it’s worth to them to house Ukrainians,” Cllr Flynn told the meeting. “There’s this expectation that it’s going to be worth massive money.

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"The worry I have is that landlords know that in a couple of months’ time, hotels [currently housing refugees] will want their rooms back. That’s what they’re getting ready for, in my view.

“The message needs to go out from Kerry County Council that our number-one priority is to protect them(sic) Irish families first and make sure they’re not evicted,” he said. “I’m calling on the council to write to the Housing Minister for the amount of time on notices to quit to be extended so they [landlords] won’t be able to evict Irish people to house Ukrainians”.

Cllr Flynn expressed his concern over the accommodation that would be available to those served notices, particularly families.

“Our homeless shelters are not suitable for families,” he said.

Independent Councillor Niall ‘Botty’ O’Callaghan told the meeting he is aware of a young man who was worked all his life in Killarney but has been “couch surfing” in recent weeks as his accommodation was terminated and he can’t source new housing.

“He went back to his old landlord, asked him can they come back…the landlord had committed the house to Ukrainian people,” Cllr O’Callaghan said.

“Have we facilities for our own homeless that will present over the next couple of weeks?...Is couch-surfing his only option?”

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Cllr Kennelly said he is currently engaging with Kerry County Council’s housing department on the matter of an 85-year-old woman, whose notice to quit will take effect in October, he explained.

“There is no housing for people who present with notices to quit,” he warned. There’s no house in Listowel for renting, leasing, nothing. We are very accommodating to the Ukrainian people, but our own people are suffering too.”

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