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Cork landlord given court order after tenants hold 'Covid house parties'

The landlord found himself subject to an order under environmental laws.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews

A CORK LANDLORD faces a €1,000 fine or 12 months in prison if there is a proven breach of a noise protection order at his properties occupied by student tenants, a court heard today.

The houses had previously been described in court as being used for “Covid House Parties” during lockdown.

Last week at Cork District Court Judge Olann Kelleher found it proven that students were partying in two of Fachtna O’Reilly’s properties near University College Cork (UCC) until four and five am during lockdown.

Two locals took private prosecutions against the 80-year-old landlord for noise pollution under environmental laws. The landlord now finds himself subject to an order under these laws.

Judge Kelleher made an order under Section 108 of the Environment Agency Protection Act. It makes O’Reilly liable for any future proven breaches of noise levels at the houses involved.

It is understood that students tenants moved into the properties in late May.

O’Reilly, of Model Farm Road in Cork, was given a week to address noise issues at two of his properties in Highfield Avenue and Connaught Avenue in Cork city.

Today at the court O’Reilly’s solicitor, Eamon Murray, said his client had issued warnings to the tenants in both houses and had installed noise monitors and CCTV cameras. O’Reilly also offered to pay the costs of the complainants in the case.

Loud music

Local residents Sadie O’Mahony and Mairead O’Callaghan, who took the proceedings, said that they had been subjected to loud music, persistent shouting and rowdy and aggressive behaviour from student occupants of the houses.

They told the court that the antisocial behaviour was ongoing 24/7 and that they were unable to enjoy their own homes arising out of the excessive noise.

Speaking after the ruling, O’Callaghan said: “It will mean a lot to the families to have peace. The properties in question have been very noisy. We got no response from him [O'Reilly]. We were left with no choice but to come here. It has had an awful impact on us. We all want to get on with our lives.”

O’Reilly’s solicitor, Eamon Murray, had applied for the case to be adjourned, saying that his client had taken steps to address the issues raised by the complainants.

O’Reilly has now made verbal, informal and formal warnings to the relevant student tenants.

Solicitor David McCoy, for the residents, said that his clients were wary of claims that O’Reilly had had a “Road to Damascus” conversion on addressing the anti-social behaviour over the last week. He asked Judge Kelleher to make an order on the matter.
Judge Kelleher asked why it had taken O’Reilly such a long time to take action over the complaints from predominantly elderly locals.

“People in this mature area of Cork are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their area and to live peacefully. I hope this will be the end of it and the problems.”

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Judge Kelleher said that he was also cognisant of the welfare of patients, nurses and doctors at the nearby Bon Secours Hospital as well as the potential impact on nuns in the enclosed order at the Poor Clare Convent whom he said were entitled to peace.

Judge Kelleher also said it was his belief that the non-eviction protection granted to workers who lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 crisis “was in a totally different league” to the case that was before his court.

Meanwhile, the Magazine Road and Surrounding Areas Residents Association welcomed the order. They called for a radical overhaul of the legislation governing rented properties.

The residents are now calling for the licensing of landlords, an NCT-type certification for rental properties, a public register of property owners, modernisation of the planning laws in respect of residential properties being changed for multi-occupancy use and a regeneration plan for the local area.

Among the local residents is former Lord Mayor of Cork, Catherine Clancy, who says that other landlords in the area need to take on board the rulings of the court.

“We just want to be able to enjoy our community and enjoy our homes. We have not been able to enjoy our homes since the 28 May. We were heading last weekend in to our sixth week without sleep. All we want is for the students in these houses to respect the community,” said Clancy. 

About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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