Among Limerick City and County Council’s senior employees are one staff member who owns 13 investment properties and another with a property portfolio worth €3.5 million.
A council executive planner is charging €2,400 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in Limerick city, while the council’s director of housing entered the rental market just more than two years ago.
Other council staff meanwhile operate businesses outside their employment with the local authority including planning consultancy practices, a horse breeders and a petrol station.
An executive engineer who owns 13 properties
Limerick City and County Council’s senior staff and those who work in housing – currently 570 of its 1,500 employees – must submit annual declarations of interests to the local authority under the Local Government Act 2001.
The 2022-2023 staff interests register confirms that 39 out of these 570 employees own 64 rental properties between them.
Among the landlords are two staff who are paid directly by the council to lease their properties for social housing use. Another employee rents their investment property to Clare County Council under a similar scheme.
At the top of the list is an executive engineer who owns 13 properties in four separate buildings on Thomas Street in Limerick city centre. Her portfolio includes eight apartments and five commercial units.
The list also includes an executive planner in the council’s economic development unit who in September this year rented out a two-bedroom apartment on Limerick city’s William Street for €2,400 a month. He co-owns another two apartments and a retail unit in the same building.
The local authority’s director of housing Caroline Curley declares her ownership of an “investment” property in Clarecastle, county Clare, which she purchased without a mortgage for €140,000 in May 2021.
Almost one in five engineers on the register of interests is a landlord. Among them is a senior executive engineer who owns rental properties in three counties. His most recent acquisition was a rental property in Milltown, Dublin 6, which he bought for €710,000 in 2015.
Another executive engineer owns six rental properties spread out across Limerick and Dublin worth an estimated €3.5 million.
Other landlords, many of whom work in the council’s housing units, include a senior engineer with three rental properties in Maynooth, county Kildare.
Some staff have interests that aren’t property-related. One is a director of his family-owned builders' providers business, which has assets of more than €2 million. Another two run planning and engineering consultancies.
A staff officer co-owns with a family member a petrol station, which supplies fuel to her local authority employer, according to her declaration of interests.
There are a handful of staff declaring triple incomes, including a senior employee who owns and runs a horse-breeding business and receives rent from his residential property in Nenagh, county Tipperary.
When asked what procedures it has in place to manage potential conflicts of interest, a council spokesperson said, “Staff of the local authority of a certain grade, along with staff who work in particular areas, are… required to make an ethics declaration of property and interests each year.”