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Court rules Montessori is entitled to injunction preventing landlord taking possession of premises until case decided

The landlord has claimed the Montessori owes €1.48 million in unpaid rent.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE OPERATOR OF a Montessori school and a family entertainment centre has secured a High Court injunction preventing its landlord from retaking possession of its premises.

In a ruling  Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington said that Fun2see Learning & Activity Centre Limited which operates the two businesses that employs 32 people, out of unit 21 Ashbourne Retail Park, in Co Meath was entitled to have an injunction that was granted last September kept in place until the full hearing of the dispute.

The judge directed that the full hearing of the matter, which she described as a landlord and tenant dispute, be heard as soon as possible.

The injunction prevents the landlord, Pargo Properties One Limited, from re-entering and taking possession of the premises or from interfering with the tenant’s businesses operated from the unit.

The injunction was sought after the landlord had served it with a notice of forfeiture in September requiring Fun2see to pay €1.48 million of alleged arrears in rent within seven days.
Fun2see, represented by Conor Bowman SC, disputes the landlord’s claim of arrears and argued that the businesses would close if the landlord was allowed to take possession of the premises.

The court heard that Fun2see had entered into a lease for the premises with its former landlord approximately a decade ago.

It claims that following an oral agreement, settled with a handshake, with the former owner in May 2012 its rent was reduced to €1,500 a week, which it has always paid.

It claims the original rent was reduced after an anchor tenant left the retail park, which saw a reduction in the number of persons using the park.

Fun2see claims its rent did not increase when the park had a receiver appointed to it by Nama, after the original landlord got into financial difficulties.  

Pargo, which rejects the tenants claims in regard to the arrears of rent, bought the title from the receiver. 

It says the injunction should be discharged, and says it was fully entitled to seek possession of the property after the arrears of rent were not paid.

The court heard that discussions took place between the parties, but no agreement was reached over certain issues including the alleged arrears of rent, resulting in the issuing of the forfeiture notice.

In her judgement today, Ms Justice Pilkington said she was satisfied that a fair issue had been raised that would allow the court put an injunction in place pending the resolution of the case.

Damages would not be an adequate remedy and the court was further satisfied that the balance of convenience favoured the granting of the injunction in a case where the judge directed that the full hearing should take place as soon as possible.

The judge noted in her decision that the landlord had argued that the injunction should be discharged on grounds including that there was material non-disclosure of relevant matters by Fun2see when the injunction was sought. 

The judge also noted that there is no documentary evidence to support the plaintiff’s contention that the alleged rent reduction to €1,500 per week in mid-2012 was something that was to remain in place beyond the end of that year.  

The judge noted that the landlord had also disputed that Nama had accepted that €1,500 per week was the full amount of rent due on the premises when its receiver was handling the property.

Those and other issues in contention were something that could be decided at the full hearing, the judge said. The matter was adjourned to a date in March.

About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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