In this post, members of CATU Mountjoy-Dorset Street reflect on an illegal eviction that was stopped on the 11th of April 2021, the day before the eviction ban lifted.

On Sunday 11th April 2021, one of our neighbours on St Joseph’s Place just off Dorset St was subjected to a very illegal eviction.

His landlord hired 5 big men to pull him out of his home, change the locks, then stay in the house to intimidate him when he tried to argue.

He did this despite the fact that there was a complete ban on evictions until 12th April (ie, the next day), and he had not given this tenant a legal eviction notice.

A local CATU member was walking past and intervened. She knocked into the neighbours and called for people to come out to support this tenant, and quickly there was a small crowd on the street.

The tenant and some supporters went back into the house and stood facing down the landlord’s men.

The gardaí arrived. Several people explained to them that this eviction was illegal and in breach of the covid-related eviction ban, but they didn’t put any pressure on the landlord and his hired help to back off.

Instead, the Gardaí began pressuring the tenant’s supporters, saying they were in breach of covid-related health acts. They blocked off the street, took people’s names and addresses, and threatened them with a fine.

After a long stand-off lasting several hours, and after loads of back and forth between the landlord, the Gardaí, and the tenant, the landlord agreed to back off and let the tenant back into his home.

We did a bit of digging and found that the same landlord did an illegal eviction from the same property in 2019. Just a few months ago, the RTB ordered him to pay damages to the previous tenant of the property, who was made homeless along with her kids.

So it seems reasonable to assume that this landlord knew what he did on Sunday was completely illegal – and he knew that he would probably have to pay damages eventually – but he went ahead anyway.

It just goes to shows how insufficient the RTB and “proper channels” are for defending ourselves, our neighbours, and our communities. Landlords aren’t deterred by the fines they might get issued – it’s pocket change for these people.

As others have said: when something is punishable by a fine, that just means it’s legal for rich people.

If you are being evicted like this, the official line is that you should lodge a case with the RTB.

But this won’t stop you being pulled out of your home onto the street.

Lodging a case with the RTB means first being made homeless and then – months or years later – maybe getting some money for your trouble. The proper channels don’t protect our communities – we have to do it ourselves.

When the sergeant showed up on Sunday, he feigned ignorance of the law while making up reasons for not preventing the eviction. But we later overheard him talking to a colleague about how the eviction was definitely illegal, how the landlord hadn’t served proper notice, etc.

When another guard arrived later, he also pretended that he didn’t know about “PRTB issues” but 10 minutes later he was coaching the landlord about how to serve proper notice.

The guards are not ignorant of the law, they’re doing their job: their main function in a capitalist state is to guard the rights of property owners to use and dispose of their property however they want.

Conclusion: the RTB won’t protect us, the guards won’t protect us, it’s up to us to protect us. Join the damn union!