Thursday 16 August 2018

Students who spent last two nights in a hotel can return to rented house, High Court rules

The High Court in Dublin (Stock image)
The High Court in Dublin (Stock image)

Tim Healy

Four students are to be allowed back into the house they have been renting following a ruling by the High Court.

The students can return after Ms Justice Marie Baker extended an injunction directing the house owner, Sinead O'Connor, to hand over possession of the property at Lifford Park, South Circular Road, Limerick, to a bank-appointed receiver.

The court heard the students spent the last two nights in a hotel after Mrs O'Connor allegedly told them to leave.

The students, the Judge said, are caught up in a dispute between Mrs O'Connor and Karl O'Neill of KPMG who was appointed receiver of the house by AIB in 2016.

Mrs O'Connor contests the validity of the receiver's appointment.

Previously, Mr O'Neill's lawyers secured a temporary court order requiring Mrs O'Connor and any others with knowledge of the order to hand over possession of the house. 

It is claimed Mrs O'Connor arrived at the house last Monday and informed the students that unless they paid her rent and signed a document stating they would not have any dealings in relation to the house with anyone other than her, they would have to leave.

The students, who had agreed to pay rent to the receiver, said while they were prepared to pay her rent were not comfortable with signing the document.

She allegedly arrived with a sleeping bag, accompanied with other persons who remained downstairs in the property until 12.30am on Tuesday morning. 

It was claimed the students were also told other people would be arriving at the house and they were "working out a rota" for people to stay there for the next few weeks.

When the matter returned before the court on Thursday, John Kennedy Bl, for Mr O'Neill, said the students were upset and distressed by what had happened.

They had left the premises and were put up at a hotel since Tuesday at the expense of the receiver, counsel said.

Counsel said it was also their case the order was not being complied with by Mrs O'Connor and other unknown persons remained at the property.

Ms O'Connor from Tullig, Castleisland, Co Kerry, representing herself, said the order against her should be set aside on grounds including the receiver was not validly appointed.

She said nobody was currently at the house, and added that she had arrived there with her sleeping bag in order to vindicate her constitutional rights.

She said the students, who she had a good relationship with, were "laughing and joking" when they left the house on Tuesday afternoon.

Following an exchange with the judge she accepted the students were as tenants entitled to regain possession of her property. 

Mrs O'Connor's claims were disputed by Mr Kennedy.

Ms Justice Baker, who welcomed Mrs O'Connor's concession that the students were entitled to return back to the house, said she was satisfied from the evidence before the court that Mr O'Neill's appointment was valid.

That finding, the judge said, was subject to what another judge may decide at the full hearing of the dispute.

The Judge, in adjourning the matter for a month, that rent from the property should be paid into an account and kept in trust for which ever party is successful at the full hearing. 

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