A couple who say they suffered "a living nightmare" at the hands of ex-garda landlord Kevin Galvin have warned future tenants about renting any of his properties.
Galvin was dismissed from his job in information technology at garda headquarters after he was found to have three adults and an 18-month-old baby living in a garden shed heated by an oven.
He was convicted late last year on three counts under health and safety legislation relating to properties he was renting out, but was this year found to be still letting accommodation.
Ronan Maher and Laura O'Neill, who rented a flat and later a café from Galvin in Smithfield until May of this year, said their dream of a first home became "a living nightmare".
"Soon after we opened, Kevin began to build a completely unsafe tenement at the back of our building, getting rid of our rubbish space. Suddenly we had to store it in the hallways, in the shop, and in our flat. Not to mention the rubbish that he didn't bother moving after the last tenants left," said Maher.
He said Galvin changed the price of the rent on a monthly basis, and encouraged tenants to fix problems such as electrical faults by themselves, instead of calling out an electrician. "We had a power cut once a week, and Kevin encouraged the tenants to fix the problem themselves. On more than one occasion, there were blue arcs of electricity coming out of the fuse box."
The couple also said their business was destroyed by Galvin's "shoddy workmanship".
"He did all of the building work himself. We were once in one of his units where he had blocked holes in the toilet pipe by dipping tissue into some kind of wallpaper paste and plastering them over the holes. On Valentine's night in the café the cupboard which was holding all of our crockery fell clean from the wall. Luckily we were clear of it because the cast-iron pots and pans would have cracked our skulls open.
"When it fell, we could see that the cupboard was held up by a bar of wood which was less than a foot long and was nailed into a plasterboard wall."
The couple, who are in their 20s, say that while they knew they had serious problems with Galvin other neighbours often suffered worse. "One tenant showed us his flat, and how the lino on the floor was nailed into sand and grit. If you barely touched the back wall, you would hear an ominous crumbling on the other side."
Maher and O'Neill said their lowest point came just as they decided to move out of the flat."We couldn't cope any more, and closed the business and handed in our notice. Galvin decided to change the very small premises into two small apartments, but chose to do it before we left and started building around us. One morning we were in bed and a saw literally came through the wall. He was building in rooms next to us."
They have both since moved to a new home in Galway. "We want to get our message out there that people should not be tempted by the cheap price of rent like we were. It is just not worth it."
Galvin had no comment to make when contacted by the Sunday Tribune.