A company that rents luxury properties – including one owned by singer Bob Geldof – on behalf of landlords is to be wound up by order of the High Court.
The court was told on Thursday that efforts to save Period Door Properties Ltd collapsed due to the withdrawal last week by Ulster Bank of overdraft and credit facilities and the "unwarranted" withdrawal by Daft.ie of advertising services.
Coupled with the behaviour of certain subtenants, to whom the group rented rooms but who allegedly refused to pay their rent and utility bills, the company was hopelessly insolvent and sought liquidation so that other tenants who were paying their bills could be treated fairly, the court was also told.
Period Door Properties’ business was to rent whole houses in upmarket areas of Dublin from landlords and then sublet individual rooms in those properties.
It handles 20 properties in places such as Ballsbridge, Clontarf, Monkstown, Rathgar and Donnybrook including one in Crosthwaite Park South, Dún Laoghaire, whose landlord is Bob Geldof.
Ken Fogarty SC, for the company, told the court that, as a result of the developments at Ulster Bank and Daft, there had been a significant alteration in the company’s financial standing. As a result, it had been decided to seek a withdrawal of the examinership petition and its replacement with an application to appoint a liquidator.
In an affidavit, Period Door Properties director Geoff Hogan said the company did "not jump the gun" by applying for examinership last month. This was in circumstances where, under threat of liquidation by creditors, Mr Hogan considered further investment and remedial management steps would ensure the viability of the firm.
It was the company’s belief, in circumstances where significant sums were owed to it, that, if collected, they would allow it discharge most of its liabilities.
However, the emergency measures introduced by the Government to deal with the pandemic made for an “impossible trading environment”.
A significant number of subtenants stopped paying rent and continued using utilities such as power and heat, and because they were mostly at home, those utility bills increased significantly and were also not paid for. Others just moved out without notice, Mr Hogan said.
Certain subtenants with the capacity to pay acted opportunistically by abusing the Covid regulations, which prevented the turning off of utilities, he said.
To add insult to injury, he said non-paying subtenants often used the excuse that there was no cleaning of common areas or gardening being done during lockdown despite being fully aware that cleaning and maintenance staff could not visit the properties under lockdown.
The housing charity Threshold negatively contributed to the company's position by giving opinions without all the relevant facts, he said. There was a threat to "name and shame" management and agents, including through social media, despite the fact the company was in an examinership process.
The company was subject of unwarranted adverse publicity, much of it generated by those refusing to pay rent and where the company could not respond as it would impact on subsequent litigation against those responsible, he said.
In relation to certain landlords whom the company was acting for, some illegally retook control of the properties and looked for rent to be paid directly to them.
Rooms that had been vacated could not be re-let due to Covid restrictions and certain subtenants took a “free-for-all” attitude and set up home offices in the vacant rooms.
The examiner, Andrew Feighery, principal of GCG Associates, said the company was "hopelessly insolvent" and winding up was more appropriate. He said if appointed liquidator, he intended to pursue the numerous outstanding sums due to the company to maximise collections for creditors and endeavour to ensure remaining tenants are treated fairly.
Mr Justice Michael Quinn said it was clear the company was no longer viable and appointed Mr Feighery as liquidator.