Well-known Facebook group Galway House Hunting for sound people has denied censoring landlords’ bad behaviour after being accused of removing posts about landlords engaging in unfair practices.
The allegations surfaced after Galway-based People Before Profit Representative Joe Loughnane posted a screenshot into the Facebook group which was subsequently removed by the administrators, with Loughnane being removed from the entire group.
The screenshot featured a Twitter post from an individual who claimed a person she knew was paying €700 per month for student accommodation in Galway while living with 12 other students and a landlady.
In addition, the Twitter user claimed that the €700 needed to be paid in cash while on Friday mornings tenants would have to remove “everything” from their rooms as the house was being used as an AirBnB at the weekends.
Joe Loughnane claimed the post was getting a “huge reaction” before he was removed from the group and declared that the administrators were attempting to “quell any uproar over the behaviour of landlords.”
The well-known activist encouraged people to “expose househunt.ie as a pro-exploitative landlord group who are hellbent on profiting off the misery of people desperate for a room.”
Galway City Councillor Owen Hanley also posted in the group, stating there was “no point in trying to hide the truth”.
The Social Democrats Councillor re-posted the screenshot which got Joe Loughnane removed, while asserting that “abusive landlords are taking advantage of the housing crisis and need to be called out.”
An administrator replied to Councillor Hanley, claiming they are “not trying to hide anything” and that they could “leave the post of the screenshot of this horrible situation up.”
The administrator argued that the original post was removed because it contained “items against group rules and was reported by numerous people.”
As of now there are numerous screenshots of the Twitter post plastered over the Facebook group page.
Another user replied to the administrator asking for clarification on what specific rules were violated as they have noticed three separate posts of the same screenshot being removed.
The administrator simply replied that they had only banned those who have been reported.
Sinn Féin activist Conor Dowling posted in the group voicing his frustration at the situation.
He remarked that it was “depressing that what used to be a page for struggling tenants in a housing crisis has become an advertising tool for landlords to make money.”
He accused the administrators of “banning people who criticise dodgy landlord practices.”
In recent weeks it has been alleged that the well known Facebook group Galway House Hunting for sound people has been handed over to a private company called HouseHunt.ie.
Its been claimed that many Facebook house hunting groups across the country and are now operating them under the HouseHunt.ie banner.
Galway Daily put the allegations of censorship to the administrators of the Facebook page and received a lengthy statement in response.
They claimed to be “in no way censoring bad behaviour by landlords and asked us to “please review past posts in the group and you will see this to be the case.”
“The post in question that was removed was reported by a number of people. This poster has been reported on a number of other occasions.”
“Our service on our website is free to use. People are free to join the Facebook group as long as they abide by the group rules.”
The statement noted that “these rules have never changed under our watch”.
In addition to this, the statement highlighted their efforts to help people at the mercy of the ongoing housing crisis.
“We noticed there was a number of issues around student housing in particular so we have created something called student swap which is now live.
“The idea would be, A student who for example has got a house in Galway but has been accepted in Dublin to college, but cannot afford rent, can swap with someone in the opposing situation.”
The aim is to “alleviate” stress lower income families.
The statement also explained how the group “actually helped the Students’ Union last year when they were organizing a questionnaire and a protest on rising student rents.”
They maintain that they were in contact with the SU President at the time and did everything in their power to support the cause.