Sunday 25 February 2018

Christian Carter reacts to being hit with legal bill of up to €60k: 'I'm not like other landlords'

Carter and landlord to pay case costs over property where up to 70 were living, court rules

Christian Carter arrives at the High Court in Dublin wearing a motorcyle helmet. Photo: Damien Eagers
Christian Carter arrives at the High Court in Dublin wearing a motorcyle helmet. Photo: Damien Eagers

Ray Managh and Amy Molloy

CHRISTIAN CARTER and 85-year-old Richard Stanley, the joint landlords of a Co Dublin house which at one point had been used to house up to 70 South American and east European tenants, were told by a judge today to pay a local authority’s legal costs that could run close to €60,000.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane directed the costs order be made jointly and severally against both Carter and Stanley which means either of them could be sued for the full amount following taxation or they could agree to equally share the load.

The house where up to 70 tenants were living Inset: Christian Carter
The house where up to 70 tenants were living Inset: Christian Carter
The house where up to 70 people were living

The Circuit Civil Court heard that Carter, of Dunedin Drive, Monkstown, Co Dublin, had been paying Richard Stanley’s son, Dermot, €2,000 a month by bankers order and €2,000 in cash for the five-bedroom house, The Pines, Lehaunstown, Cabinteely, Co Dublin.

Judge Linnane heard that in turn Dermot Stanley, who lives in London, was paying his father Richard, who owns the house, €2,000 a month.  In an email to Carter in August 2015, Dermot Stanley stated his father had noticed some mattresses “out the back of the house last time he collected rent.”

Dermot Stanley added in the email: “If you can make sure your guy keeps it looking ok for rent day then at least you’ll save me the grief. Thanks.”

Barrister Fran Rooney, counsel for Carter, told the court his client had sublet the property with the consent and knowledge of the Stanleys after the son, Dermot, had agreed to the deletion of a clause in the Lease prohibiting sub-letting.

A dormitory in The Pines in Cabinteely, where up to 70 people were reported to be living Photo: Tony Gavin
A dormitory in The Pines in Cabinteely, where up to 70 people were reported to be living Photo: Tony Gavin
A room full of bunk beds at The Pines, Lehaunstown. Photo: Independent.ie
The balcony of the house in Cabinteely which has 70 people living in it

In another Dermot Stanley to Christian Carter email, opened by Mr Rooney to the court, Stanley the younger had given his consent to the sub-division of the house into 15 bedrooms.

In the second email of October 2015, he told Carter he was “set for another year…..providing you keep my father happy every time he comes over to collect the rent.

The living conditions in the 'unauthorised hostel' were first reported on by Independent.ie earlier this year.

Barrister Liam O’Connell, counsel for Dunlaoghaire-Rathdown County Council, which had sought injunctions restraining the continued use of the house as a multi-occupancy dormitory property, told Judge Linnane today that her order to clear the house of tenants by Saturday last had been fully complied with.

“Its now just a matter of legal and administrative costs that has to be decided by the court,” he said.

Michael Binchy, who appeared with solicitor Kevin O’Higgins for Richard Stanley, asked the court to award costs against Mr Carter as Mr Stanley senior had moved at all times to bring an end to the unauthorised  development at the property.

He said Mr Stanley had not known what Mr Carter had been doing at the property and if the court held against him on awarding full costs against Mr Carter he said a 25-75 per cent costs order in favour of Mr Stanley would reflect blame worthiness of the parties.

Judge Linnane said that if 50 people had been paying €50 a week each to Mr Carter he would have been receiving €10,000 a month.  Sixty tenants would have been paying him more than €12,000 a month.  At an earlier hearing it was estimated Carter had been collecting up to €16,000 a month in rent.

Mr Rooney, who appeared with O’Brien Redmond Solicitors for Carter, said the sewage problems at the house had been fully cleared up by an environmental company employed by his client.

Judge Linnane struck out the local authority’s application and awarded legal costs jointly and severally against Carter and Stanley senior, to be taxed in default of agreement. She directed that the local authority be paid €2,810 for administrative expenses.

Mr Carter confirmed that all tenants have now been re-housed.

Speaking to Independent.ie after the court case, he said: "People are my age that I'm renting to. I know what it's like to have a landlord mess you around. I'm not like other landlords. I've never increased rent on anybody, ever."

The court also heard how Mr Carter had employed a man by the name of Dillon De Brun to collect the rent cash-in-hand on his behalf.

Independent.ie broke the story in January through an undercover investigation and revealed how a man using the name 'Dyl O'Reilly' was advertising The Pines on Facebook.

This was in fact Mr Dillon De Brun, who Mr Carter confirmed was employed directly by him.

None of the tenants had leases and were each paying €200 per month to live there.

The court also heard how 15 rooms in the house were being used as bedrooms, in what was meant to be a five-bedroom house.

Each of the bedrooms had been subdivided and up to 36 people were sleeping in the basement, with up to eight people sleeping in the attic.

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