Shatter in bid to evict tenant from US home over rent row
Published 17/09/2012 | 05:00
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has been locked in an eviction row with a tenant of one of his Florida properties.
US court records show how Mr Shatter and his wife Carol spent months trying to recover arrears in rent payments from the tenant, Cliff Goldstein, before taking a legal action to evict him in May.
Mr Goldstein -- a retired school guidance counsellor -- blamed "health problems and financial setbacks" for falling into arrears.
The property in question, 7825 Veronawalk Boulevard in the south-west Florida city of Naples, is one of four houses owned by the Shatters in the sunshine state.
The homes are part of the minister's portfolio of 15 co-owned properties, the largest of any cabinet member.
Court papers show how the Shatters had Mr Goldstein's eviction halted after he paid back most of what he owed.
Last night, Mr Goldstein said the whole episode was a "misunderstanding" after the Irish Independent found him still living in the smart townhouse, albeit with his rent increased by $50 a month.
The 51-year-old first moved into the Shatters' townhouse in July 2010, paying rent of $1,150 (€894).
As well as working in a local primary school, he ran a family therapy business from the address, his website promising to help people "choose to be happy".
Documents show how Mr Goldstein ran up arrears in 2011 but it was February this year when Mr Shatter emailed his tenant after noticing that the rent from October 2011 "appears to have bounced".
It took Mr Goldstein more than a month to respond, promising to pay the Shatters back and adding: "I apologise but I continue to have health problems and financial setbacks."
On May 10, the Shatters filed a complaint for eviction with the Collier County Court, citing arrears of $1,875 (€1,430) and noting that they had also not been paid rent for May 2012.
Mr Goldstein said he paid back most of what he owed as well as that month's rent on May 17 and the Shatters subsequently halted his eviction, which had been ordered by a judge.
They emailed Ms Harrity telling her that Mr Goldstein had committed to meeting his future rent payments and had promised to vacate the property in mid-July.
Ms Harrity wrote to the judge saying that the owner, who she incorrectly described as "Minister of Commerce for Ireland", "told me not to evict him".
Instead of vacating the property Mr Goldstein was still living there this week on a four-month lease, now paying $1,200 (€916) a month.
He said he bore no ill-will towards the Shatters.
"It was all a misunderstanding. There was a discrepancy with the rent that was owed. When they learned it was paid, they dropped the eviction, and we've signed another lease," he said.
Mr Shatter declined to comment.