A JUDGE made an order making a landlord liable for any future proven breaches of noise controls at properties occupied by student tenants and locally dubbed 'Covid Party House' and 'Party Central.'
Judge Olann Kelleher made the order after hearing that Cork landlord Fachtna O'Reilly (80) had issued formal warnings to the tenants involved and had installed both noise monitors and CCTV cameras in a bid to tackle behaviour which prompted local residents to take legal action.
Residents complained they have not had a peaceful sleep since May 28 because of so-called 'virus parties' being staged by student tenants in the Magazine Road area of Cork.
Resident Mairead O'Callaghan, one of those who took legal action over the noise complaints, said the quiet residential area had been "like Beirut."
"This has been going on for 17 years," she said as she welcomed the court ruling.
Judge Kelleher made the order at Cork District Court under Section 108 of the Environment Agency Protection Act.
It now makes the landlord liable for any future proven breaches of noise controls at the properties involved.
The order was made despite a plea from Mr O'Reilly's solicitor, Eamon Murray, for the matter to be adjourned in light of the extensive actions taken since July 10 by the landlord.
Last week, the judge ruled in favour of two residents, Mairead O'Callaghan and Sadie O'Mahony, over noise complaints and said he considered that Mr O'Reilly had effectively "turned a blind eye" to the issue.
He had adjourned making any order for a week to allow the landlord deal with the issues raised.
The court was told that Mr O'Reilly has now issued verbal, informal and formal warnings to the young tenants involved over the noise-related complaints.
Further, he was installing both noise monitors and CCTV security cameras on his properties and was taking an active role in tackling the issues highlighted.
Mr O'Reilly was also offering to pay the residents costs in relation to the proceedings.
However, Judge Kelleher queried why it had taken so long to take action over the complaints from residents, several of whom are quite elderly.
"I hope this will be the end of it and the problems," the judge said.
"People in this mature area of Cork are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their area and to live peacefully."
Judge Kelleher also noted that the area contained the Bon Secours Hospital, numerous resident doctors and nurses as well as a convent.
"There has been trouble in this area over a considerable period of time," he noted.
Judge Kelleher also said he believed 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 issue involved over anti-social behaviour.
The Magazine Road and Surrounding Areas Residents Association (MRSARA) welcomed the judgement and called for a total overhaul of the legislation governing rented properties.
"The residents very much welcome Judge Kelleher’s ruling in accepting the evidence of the residents in relation to the house parties and the associated excessive noise at these properties," a spokesperson said.
'We also welcome Judge Kelleher’s clarification that landlords can evict tenants for antisocial behaviour/excessive noise levels and that Covid-19 restrictions on evictions apply to financial issues only."
"This has been a very difficult and stressful eight weeks for all our residents and all we ever wanted was to enjoy our homes and community."
"We believe that the current legislation on the management and upkeep of rented properties is minimal, outdated and in urgent need of change to make it relevant to 2020. No community should be left at the mercy of the personality of the landlord."
MRSARA is 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 resident properties being changed for multi-occupancy use and a regeneration plan for the area involved.