Property Guardians featured in the Independent

Ailesbury Road trophy home for €62.50 per week? It's possible. Technically not tenants, occupants at Dublin 4 are "guardians"

Mark Keenan – 07 February 2014 -

HOW is it possible to live in a luxury seven bedroom trophy home on Ailesbury Road – one of Ireland's two most expensive streets – for a grand sum of €250 per month or €62.50 per week?

This week 29-year-old art history graduate Leah Reynolds has achieved the seemingly impossible and is moving her possessions into 1 Ailesbury Road, a 19th century two-storey over-basement house and one of the largest properties on a street where the last two sales of houses clocked up in at €4.75m and €5.3m respectively at the end of last year.

On Ailesbury Road, it normally costs €2,400 to rent an apartment and around €4,000 per month to rent one of the plush D4 enclave's mid-sized houses.

Ailesbury is home to eight embassies and 11 ambassadors' residences and the owners have included a roll call of bankers and top lawyers as well as Leah's namesake former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, Dragon's Den media mogul Gavin Duffy and the McManus family.

Even though the crash shaved 70pc off values here, it hasn't dampened the appetite for trophy homes as proven by JP McManus when he paid €10m two years ago for an Ailesbury Road abode with a glass-floored ballroom which slides back to reveal a heated swimming pool. This is Dublin's Mayfair.

But while Leah Reynolds is paying a peppercorn fee to rub shoulders with Ireland's wealthiest, she's not paying rent.

Technically she's not a tenant. This is because Reynolds is one of seven "guardians" who have just moved in to protect the former EMI headquarters at 1 Ailesbury Road as part of a unique arrangement which allows footloose individuals to live in cheap occupation and property owners to rest assured that their empty buildings aren't exposed to vandalism or dereliction.

And of course, Camelot, the UK-based network, makes a profit.

"I recently came up to Dublin from Cork after completing my higher diploma in art history and I'm taking care of my dad who hasn't been well lately," says Reynolds, whose new housemates include boyfriend and girlfriend couple Alex McCutcheon and Jenny Sweeney.

"I was looking around for a place to live in Dublin when a friend steered me towards the Camelot website. She has been living as a guardian in an Abbey in Harold's Cross and her stay was organised by Camelot. So I registered with them and when I saw the house on Ailesbury Road, I put my name down for it straight away.