‘We have nowhere to go’

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A Dungiven couple say their life has been turned upside down after being told they had a month to vacate their rented home because it was being repossessed. 

Peter and Carmel McTaggart have lived in their Kevin Lynch Park home for almost nine years. 

Last week the couple and their 13-year-old son were left devastated when an estate agency notified them to say they had one month’s notice to vacate the property, effective from June 21.

“This is in no way a reflection of your tenancy,” the estate agency’s letter read, adding they could offer assistance in finding alternative accommodation. “The Bank have decided to place the property on the market for sale and so require vacant possession.” 

The couple, both out of work right now, are distressed they will be left homeless. 

‘Angry’

“We don’t know where we are going to go because we have nowhere to go,” said Carmel, who said the family have invested in the two-storey property, decorating and installing flooring.

“Of course I’m angry,” said Peter. “We’ve been exemplary tenants and now we are being kicked out in a month.” 

A spokesperson for the Northern Bank said the vacate date will involve speaking to the tenant and agreeing a mutual date to leave.

“Typically this may be 3-6 months notice, as we are conscious of the tenant not being the one in default and the practicalities of finding alternative accommodation,” said the spokesperson, who said they were liaising with the appointed Estate Agent to “get matters resolved for the tenants in a mutually acceptable timetable”. 

The spokesperson told the ‘Journal’ the McTaggarts would not be expected to vacate the property by 21st July.

The couple hoped to stay on as tenants but say they were told ‘no’ because, according to the Northern Bank spokesperson, “the Bank cannot act as landlords on an ongoing basis”.

The spokesperson added: “In the short term they remain as tenants for a number of months while they find alternative accomodation.

“In many cases the estate agent acting for the bank may also have other rental properties on their books which may be suitable and some tenants will be accomodated by changing the property they rent.” 

Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McGlinchey said such a short time to move was “a disgrace” given the shortage of social housing in the area.

He said it was a “throwback to the evictions in the 1960s in the north”. 

“There just doesn’t seem to be any compassion when the tenant has done nothing wrong.

“The worrying thing is I understand there are another 11 families in the area who are currently living in properties which are being repossessed.

“There are 17 social housing homes being built in Dungiven, but I understand they won’t be ready until later this year.

“It’s a terrible situation, but we will certainly do what we can to help families.”