rental horror | 

Student (22) who shared 'horrible' two-bed flat with seven people and bedbugs wins case

Julia Langneck, a Brazilian student, told how the apartment was riddled with bedbugs, eight people shared one bathroom

Cluster of bed bugs (Stock photo)

Amy Molloy

A female tenant who shared a two-bedroom apartment in Dublin city centre with seven other people has described the “horrible” living conditions she endured.

Julia Langneck (22) took a case with the rental watchdog against her former landlord Renato Passos.

Ms Langneck, a Brazilian student, told how the apartment was riddled with bedbugs, eight people shared one bathroom and she often had nowhere to hang her clothes or belongings.

She was paying €390 a month to share a room with four other people and had to get dressed in the bathroom for privacy.

There were two sets of bunk beds and a single bed in the bedroom where she slept.

“A bunk bed is less expensive than a single bed, so everyone in the apartment paid a different price,” she told the Irish Independent.

During the Covid pandemic she decided to move out of the apartment, but Mr Passos would not return her deposit.

She subsequently took action through the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and the case proceeded to a tribunal hearing.

The RTB ruled in her favour, ordering Mr Passos to pay her €440, including €150 in damages, in respect of the tenancy at the dwelling in Bolton Street.

“I didn’t get my money back and Renato didn’t answer for anything,” she said.

“We feel like because we are not Irish or European that we don’t have a voice. I was disappointed as Renato is Brazilian and is doing this to other Brazilian people.”

Three apartments were being rented in the complex for €7,200. Mr Passos also lived in the building.

He denied he was Ms Langneck’s landlord and insisted he was sub-letting the property.

In his evidence to the RTB, Mr Passos said the building owner leased the entire building to him some years ago and he passed the rent on to that person.

When asked by the RTB about the number of people living in the apartment, Mr Passos said he never went into the apartment and never questioned anything.

The RTB showed him pictures of two bunk beds in one of the rooms, and he said he did not know anything about them.

Ms Langneck lived in the house between November 2019 and April 2020. She paid €390 as a deposit as her bedroom had five people sharing it. The other bedroom had only three people, so they paid €400 each.

She paid her deposit to a previous tenant who was leaving, and when she decided to move out of the property she had to find a replacement.

However, this tenant would not stay in the house due to the issue with bedbugs, the RTB tribunal was told.

“I moved to Ireland three years ago and I’ve lived in seven houses,” she said.

Bed bug. Library photo

“This was the worst one.”

While the RTB agreed she did not pay the deposit directly to Mr Passos, it ruled he failed in his legal duties in relation to deposits.

“It is the landlord’s duty to collect and retain a deposit paid by a tenant,” the RTB said.

“The evidence of the parties was that when the tenant and her co-tenants moved into the dwelling, they paid their deposit, a total of €3,350, to the tenants who were vacating the dwelling.”

The RTB found in her favour, but despite calls and texts to Mr Passos, she claims she has not received her award.

RTÉ highlighted how Mr Passos has been renting crowded accommodation to international students across Dublin.

Many of the rooms were filled with bunk beds and were being let on a short-term basis.

Mr Passos is a director of six Irish companies, including Sweet Home Accommodation.

He was contacted for comment but did not respond.

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