Wednesday 17 January 2018

Landlord consents to evacuation order due to fire safety concerns

Damaris Dickenson who lives in a housing complex in Kelly's Row, Dublin where people living there are facing eviction.
Damaris Dickenson who lives in a housing complex in Kelly's Row, Dublin where people living there are facing eviction.

The owners of a Dublin property, including a Wexford man, have consented to a High Court order requiring the residents, including a mother and her four young children, to evacuate the building due to 'serious' fire safety concerns.

Dublin City Council sought the order in relation to a property at 3 Kelly's Row, Dublin 1, including 20 Dorset Street, in Dublin's north inner city, which contains a number of flats.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, had on Thursday granted permission to the Council to serve short notice of the proceedings on Frank Chatham and Joseph Simpson, owners of the property,

When the matter came back before the judge pn Friday, he was told the owners were consenting to the order sought by the Council.

Joseph Simpson of Tara Green, Ballymoney, Co Wexford, who represented himself, said he had no problem with the order but disputed claims that nothing had been done by the owners since they were served with a fire safety notice prohibiting the use of the flats in March.

Arising out of that notice, he and his co-owner asked the tenants to leave the building so they could comply with fire safety requirements and they also stopped collecting rent, he said. However, the tenants remained on the premises, he said.

He also disputed that the owners had refused to return deposits paid by the tenants.

Before they stopped collecting rent, arrears had built up, he said. The tenants had been offered €600 each to leave and flats had been vandalised, he added.

James Connolly SC, for the Council, said Dublin Fire Brigade fire prevention officer Thomas Daly had in a sworn statement to the court said a letter had been given to the residents of the flats telling them the risk in the event of fire was so serious the premises were unsafe and should be evacuated.

Persons were present at three flats, counsel said. One occupant would not open the door but Mr Daly spoke to him through the door and Mr Daly also pinned the letter to a door of another tenant who was not in.

One of the tenants informed Mr Daly she had been waiting on the letter, counsel said. Mr Daly was also informed a representative of the owners had been at the building earlier on Thursday and said the tenants could remain and the required works would be done on the building.

Another occupant told Mr Daly he would not leave as he could not get his deposit back, counsel said. The occupant said he would leave if he got 50% of his deposit back, counsel added.

Mr Justice Kearns, in granting the orders prohibiting use of the premises for purposes of accommodation, said the health and safety of the residents was the court's "primary concern."

Referring to the provision of alternative accommodation for the tenants, he said he did not want another Priory Hall on his hands and adjourned the matter to this week.

The building is a four storey building accessed via Kelly's Row with a retail unit on the ground floor of 20 Dorset Street which is not affected by the Council's application. There is no physical connection between that unit and the flats above it.

The High Court had heard fire brigade officers dealt with three incidents at the building since October 2014 and a fire safety notice took effect last March prohibiting use of the premises for residential/sleeping accommodation until specified measures have been taken to the satisfaction of the fire authority

The electricity was disconnected earlier this month and the only access to and escape from the flats is via a single staircase which itself is unsafe.

When the building was inspected on May 11th, there was no evidence of any fire safety measures at the building, DDC claims. The risk to persons in the event of a fire is 'so serious' use of the building should be immediately prohibited untuil measures outlined in the fire safety notice were taken to reduce the risk to a reasonable level, Mr Daly said.

The owners of the property, Mr Chatham, Arch Villas, Greystones, Co Wicklow and Mr Simpson, Tara Green, Ballymoney, Co Wexford, were served with a fire safety notice on March 27th last.

The court also heard Mr Simpson had written on May 1st the tenants were in the process of being moved from the premises.

Mr Simpson also alleged 95pc of the items in the fire safety notice had been covered in renovations of 2007, outstanding issues were being rectified and the fire brigade would be kept up to date.

Wexford People

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