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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 3 August, 2020

Dublin City Council takes court action against receiver over failure on 'firetrap' properties

The council’s proceedings are against Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton.

Dublin City Council offices at Wood Quay.
Dublin City Council offices at Wood Quay.
Image: Shutterstock/Pierre-Olivier

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has brought proceedings seeking the attachment and possible committal to prison of a receiver over an alleged failure to comply with court orders to vacate three properties described as “firetraps”.

The council’s proceedings are against Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton who was appointed as receiver over properties located at 100, 101 and 104 Seville Place, Dublin 1 by AIB Mortgage Banks and AIB in October 2016.

Last October at the High Court Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted Dublin City Council injunctions requiring the residents of the properties, which are each divided into several flats or bedsits, to immediately vacate the buildings.

The properties were to remain vacant until they are compliant with fire safety regulations.

The matter returned to court on today. Dublin City Council, represented by Karen Denning Bl, told Mr Justice Charles Meenan that a number of people, believed to be non-nationals, are living in the buildings.

As the receiver was in charge of the properties, which are currently occupied in breach of the court’s orders, counsel said that Dublin City Council is seeking to bring a motion seeking the receiver’s attachment and committal.

Counsel said offers of alternative accommodation were made to those who had been in the building when the orders to vacate the three buildings were made last year.

Some of the residents had taken up those offers, counsel said, adding that some had not.

However the buildings remain occupied and the council said it has received complaints from residents living in the area about the occupants engaging in anti-social behaviour.

Counsel said that in correspondence to Dublin City Council the receiver said that those in the building were trespassers, and have no right to be there. The receiver said his requests to vacate the building were being ignored, the court also heard.

The receiver also suggested in its correspondence that a multi-disciplinary approach, which included Dublin City Council, the Gardai, the Fire Brigade and Dublin Homeless Network, was required to deal with the situation, counsel said.

However counsel said Dublin City Council did not agree to this, and wants to bring proceedings as it is the local authorities cases that despite the court orders the receiver has continued to permit the buildings to be occupied for residential purposes.

Mr Justice Meenan, noting the serious of the situation, granted Dublin City Council permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on the receiver and adjourned the matter to later this week.

Last year, the High Court heard that inspections carried out by Dublin City Council’s senior fire safety officials revealed that the three properties were in very poor repair, and if a fire started in any of the buildings it would spread very quickly.

The risk to persons living in the what are four-storey, 190-year-old buildings is so serious that their continued use for residential purposes should be prohibited until several serious fire safety deficiencies are addressed, the council said.

Dublin City Council sought orders against the owners of the properties Vincent and Catherine, otherwise known as Kathleen, Donoghue.

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They did not participate in the proceedings, and the court heard they have not had control over the properties since the receiver’s appointment.

It had been estimated that up to 40 persons had been living in the properties when the court made orders requiring them to leave.

There were no objections to the orders from those living at 100 and 104 Seville Place.

However lawyers representing several residents at 101, who claimed they had valid tenancies for the property, argued that they should be allowed stay in their homes while works were done to remedy Dublin City Council’s fire safety concerns.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Noonan said he had “huge sympathy for” the residents.

Given the state of the buildings the judge said he had no option other than grant the injunctions.

The judge said he could not allow a situation to develop where the residents could be “burnt in their beds in the middle of the night”.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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