Five students have been evicted from Aparto Beckett House student residence following alleged breaches of COVID-19 regulations over the past week, with students labelling Aparto’s handling of the situation as “authoritarian” and “toxic beyond belief”.
Speaking to The College Tribune, Hayley Dawson, a former resident at Beckett House has condemned the Company’s COVID monitoring practices as creating “a distressing and authoritarian environment”. She said that uniformed Gardaí have been called “at various times since November” to the accommodation while “recently they came 3 times in a row on the 19th, 20th and 21st of February”. Some Garda members have “raid[ed] people’s rooms” and “taken down names of certain students participating in illegal gatherings”. In recent weeks, an international student was evicted after receiving two warnings and a 7-day eviction notice for “hanging out in other peoples’ apartments”.
In an October 2020 email circulated to residents, students are prohibited from inviting guests to the residence including visits to “other apartments within Beckett House”. Masks must be worn when moving around “the common areas, communal corridors, the lift and reception” with “gatherings” prohibited in common areas or “roof terrace” and facilities including “movie room, gym and study areas” are limited to one person at a time.
“Students cannot be expected to stay in their own apartments all day with no interaction whatsoever apart from in common areas where only 2 people from different apartments are allowed to be in proximity to one another”
Students are “encourage[d]” to immediately contact the Facilities Team if they “experience or see gatherings in apartments”. These reports are treated as “confidential” and passed on to the Gardaí for enforcement.
Dawson states that the rules have been detrimental to “students’ mental health” as “students cannot be expected to stay in their own apartments all day with no interaction whatsoever apart from in common areas where only 2 people from different apartments are allowed to be in proximity to one another”.
Responding to these allegations, a Spokesperson for Aparto told The College Tribune: “Following a number of incidents of unacceptable anti-social behaviour, Aparto has in accordance with Residential Tenancy Board guidelines, been forced to ask a number of residents to leave its Summerhill facility. Aparto has a duty of care to protect both its staff and the wider group of student residents living in its facilities”.
Further adding that: “This decision follows a number of serious disturbances during which several large parties occurred on site along with various other unapproved gatherings which on occasion also involved external non-residents entering the facility. Such actions are in serious contravention of current restrictions and Aparto’s house rules.”
Despite prohibitions on evictions from rental properties while ‘Level 5’ five kilometer travel restrictions are in place – this moratorium does not apply to Beckett House as it is classified as a ‘Student Specific Accommodation’ (SSA). SSAs do not enter into a rental or lease agreement with student residents, but instead form a contract of licensor and licensee. Under this arrangement, students are not entitled to landlord and tenant rights under legislation, but only rights and obligations agreed to under the parties’ contract.
Under Aparto’s license agreement with students, as obtained by The College Tribune, the Company states it has the right to “Enter the Room at any time for any reason as referred to in this Licence” and “shall be entitled to terminate” where a student breaches “any of the terms” of the licence.
Rowan Kelleher – Assistant News Editor