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Charity threatens to terminate tenancy of 86-year-old over rent dispute

Eileen Mulcahy’s weekly rent has increased from €105 to €205 at the Sue Ryder Foundation facility in Nenagh, Co Tipperary

An 86-year-old woman has been threatened with the termination of her sheltered housing tenancy after refusing to agree to a near-doubling of her rent.

Eileen Mulcahy has been living in housing provided by the Sue Ryder Foundation in Nenagh, Co Tipperary for the past 13 years. Last November, she was told her weekly rent of €105 was being increased to €205, according to her family.

The foundation has also sought payment of money for alleged overuse of electricity relative to a cap it imposed some years ago. Having refused to pay the increase, she has been served with a letter terminating her tenancy on July 30th.

Mrs Mulcahy, who has severe osteoarthritis, says the increase in her rent came as a surprise to her and said she is “very worried” about the risk of being “put out” of her home.


“I was hoping to stay here until I’m no longer capable of it,” she told The Irish Times.

The charity said it was terminating her tenancy because she had breached her obligations by failing to pay the correct rent/service charges, even after a warning notice issued in May. It claims it is owed €2,505 in rent and €139.71 for “over-usage” of electricity in January and February of this year.

Ms Mulcahy’s daughter, Marie, said she had not been provided with an invoice for electricity and was told to pay a sum of money without being presented with a meter reading. She said the family requested a reading, but has been denied this.

The charity has refused to engage with the advocate it engaged to represent her mother in relation to the dispute, she added.

The Sue Ryder development in Nenagh comprises 50 self-contained apartments. According to its website, it enables resident to live independently “without the burden, worry or responsibility of maintaining a house” and offers support “while respecting privacy and independence in a safe and secure environment”.

“Residents pay a weekly or monthly contribution based on their income, which covers all their ESB, TV and heating/fuel bills, their main meal, their housekeeping and their laundry.”

In 2020, the charity ended night-time supervision at the Nenagh facility, which it blamed on declining revenues in its shops.

Asked about the family’s allegations, Gavin Reid, chief executive of Sue Ryder Foundation, said the cost of electricity is included in residents’ charges but is subject to a “generous capping to discourage wastage and overuse”.

“We pay the bill and then seek to recover the overcapping amount at cost and the bill is provided to the resident at this time,” he said. “Any resident request for a statement of account or meter reading is provided locally and I have on occasion provided residents with full statements from head office.”

The not-for-profit takes its legal and regulatory obligations seriously, he added. Where it is unable to resolve a rent dispute, it follows the guidelines set by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and abides by its rulings.

Mrs Mulcahy and her family have referred the dispute to the RTB for its determination.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.