THE landlord of a well-known Dublin guesthouse has barricaded himself inside the premises and has refused to let anyone in, the High Court has heard.
Desmond Killoran, who owns the Leeson Bridge Guest House at Upper Leeson Street, Dublin, last week took up physical occupation of the guesthouse's reception hall and has nailed shut the front and rear doors and the emergency fire exit.
The court heard that Mr Killoran claims the terms of a lease agreement he entered into with the guesthouse's operator Derek Byrne have been breached.
Mr Byrne, who for the past few years has operated the 19-room guesthouse – which caters for 38 guests and employs about nine staff – denies that claim.
Mr Byrne, in an affidavit, said that Mr Killoran has taken this action in a bid to prevent receivers, appointed last month by AIB over Mr Killoran's interest in the premises, from collecting rent due under the terms of the lease agreement.
Mr Byrne has gone to the High Court because Mr Killoran's actions are "hugely embarrassing, and damaging to the reputation of the premises", which "cannot function" while Mr Killoran remains present.
He also claims that Mr Killoran's actions are illegal and unlawful, and Mr Killoran has refused his request to vacate the premises.
Mr Justice Colm Mac-Eochaidh granted Mr Byrne a temporary injunction ordering Mr Killoran to vacate the premises and restrained him from occupying it any further.
The order, which was granted on an ex-parte basis (one side only), was made returnable to a date later this month.
In his affidavit, Mr Byrne, of Ratharney, Cushahinny, Abbeyshrule, Co Longford, said that he leased the premises from Mr Killoran in 2010.
The lease was for three years and rent was set at €126,000 per year. The rent was paid on a monthly basis, and all payments are up to date.
Last month AIB appointed a receiver over Mr Killoran's interests in the premises. Mr Byrne was informed that as a result of that appointment any rent due would have to be paid to the receiver.
However, on December 15, Mr Byrne said Mr Killoran gave him a letter purporting to terminate the lease, and ordered that Mr Byrne vacate the premises. It was also alleged in the letter that Mr Byrne had failed to fulfil the conditions of the 2010 lease agreement.
Mr Byrne said any alleged breaches had not been made clear to him. He added that he does not know what Mr Killoran wants him to do. He added that there had been no history of a dispute between him and Mr Killoran.
Mr Byrne believes the real reason behind Mr Killoran's action is to prevent the bank-appointed receiver from getting any rental income from the guesthouse. He also does not believe Mr Killoran is entitled to terminate the lease agreement.
Mr Byrne said his staff and the guests have been effectively locked out after Mr Killoran entered the premises on January 2.
He tried to speak with Mr Killoran who told him that the lease had been terminated, that Mr Byrne's insurance had been cancelled and that nobody else was coming through that door.
He said he discovered Mr Killoran had broken into the reception desk and accessed his computers, visa machine, booking records and the master keying system and had recoded the system to bar him from accessing all but one of the guest rooms.
As a result of Mr Killoran's actions, Mr Byrne said that he has had to make arrangements to find alternative accommodation for guests that had been booked in. Until the situation is resolved he cannot take any bookings.
Last night there was no response from Mr Killoran when the Irish Independent called to the guesthouse.
Outside, Glen Southern, a 45-year-old visual artist from Cheshire, England, said he used the guesthouse when working in Ireland.
He had left a suitcase of clothes and equipment in storage there when he flew home for Christmas.
Mr Southern arrived back at 6am yesterday but has so far been unable to collect his belongings.
"Luckily, I'm not out of pocket because I just settled my bill in December but I'm stuck here now with no clothes and nowhere to stay," he said.
He added that he had made attempts to contact Mr Killoran but that he had not responded.