This article is the overall winner of the 2017 Ui Cadhain Prize for Young Reporters.
In Charlotte Quay Dock, an apartment complex near the Grand Canal Dock, strange things have been happening, and they have disrupted the calm and quiet the first-floor hallway always had.
Unidentified men have been coming inside the complex, their suspected method being by entering after a resident has opened the door. The men seem to have a mission; to disrupt the residents of an apartment on the first floor.
It all started in October of 2016, when the Budanov family moved into the apartment, and their path to discovering Dublin was interrupted by the aggressive tone of a man asking to hand them a letter.
What do they really want? The men have been knocking and demanding entrance, claiming the apartment is theirs.
The landlord of the apartment told the residents that he took out a loan from the Bank of Scotland. Later, the bank stopped working in Ireland, and all previous activity in Ireland was sold off to vulture funds.
The men claim that the vulture fund owns the apartment, and that the family living in the apartment must pay the rent to a receiver.
But the family had never heard of the fund, and didn’t have any contract with them, and the apartment was registered to the landlord with the tenancies board, so they keep paying their rent to him.
The Budanov family, consisting of son Ivan, father Andrei, and mother Nadia, have been very affected by all of this commotion.
“It has been very scary, and we [Nadia and Ivan] cannot stay at home alone. Now we are always with Andrei, so he can protect us and make us feel safe,” says Nadia, the mother.
Ivan agreed that they now shopped with Andrei, stayed with him when he worked late, and never stayed home without him.
The family has especially been scared because the men always confronted the family when Andrei was at work.
“I think they listen under the door, or maybe watch to see if I leave. They don’t want to mess with the family if I’m there,” Andrei said.
A man has been spotted by one of the Budanov family’s neighbours, who lives on the other side of the hallway.
“My wife told me it was a medium-height man. She said he had a suitcase and he stopped at the door (…) and started knocking,” said a nieghbour, “but she couldn’t take a photo or identify the man too well.”
If the commotion has brought any good to the Budanov family, it is a new idea the father, Andrei, proposed.
“We have started to post little signs on our door, after a sign saying we would call the Garda if the men knocked was torn down, and we have been trying to turn the situation into an experience,” he said.
The family has posted signs, including “KNOCK KNOCK WHO’S THERE?”, “SMILE YOU ARE ON CAMERA”, and “WELCOME BACK FRIENDS”.
When asked about this, Andrei replied, “I think it’s very funny.” Funny or not, the case is yet to be closed, and the result is yet to be seen.
[Editor’s note: After receiving this article from Ivan, we checked into the situation, contacting the landlord and the receiver. You can read more about that here.]