House a scene of ‘pure chaos and destruction’, court told

Woman suing council over condition of house, claiming it nominated tenants

Joanne Penston is suing Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. When she re-entered her house at Rollins Villas, Sallynoggin, “every square and every corner” were damaged.

Joanne Penston is suing Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. When she re-entered her house at Rollins Villas, Sallynoggin, “every square and every corner” were damaged.

 

A woman has told the High Court a house in south Dublin she rented out to a family of five was a scene of “pure chaos and destruction” when she regained it.

Joanne Penston said that when she re-entered her three-bedroom house at Rollins Villas, Sallynoggin, five years later in 2013, “every square and every corner” were damaged.

There were holes in the walls, a bed was cut in half and there were mattresses in the garden which was covered in rubbish as the tenants had not used wheelie bins, she said. Copper piping and floorboards had been removed and many windows and all the doors in the house were damaged and were off their hinges, she said.

Blood and other fluids were on the floors, which were also covered in material ranging from needles and broken glass beer bottles to broken toys, she said. There were no furnishings left and the upstairs toilet did not function.

“I don’t know how anyone could inhabit the house, let alone children,” she said. “Everything was broken.”

Ms Penston, a childcare worker, claims almost €70,000 worth of damage was done and she still owes money for the repair work. A Garda who came to the house shortly after the tenants left would not enter it and she could not get anyone to clean up the garden, she said.

Rental accommodation scheme

In her proceedings, Ms Penston, who has resumed living in the property, claims she had entered into agreements with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, known as the rental accommodation scheme (RAS), in respect of the tenancy, involving the council paying the rent.

She claims the council nominated the tenants, who took up residency by early 2008, and had represented to her they were suitable tenants and had been vetted. She relied on those representations when entering into the letting agreements, she claims.

The tenants did not take care of the property and the representations made to her by the council were false and negligently made, she alleges.

Ms Penston, represented by Mark de Blacam SC, has sued the council, seeking damages for alleged negligence. She claims the council is liable for damage caused by the tenant, other than wear and tear.

Represented by Denis McDonald SC, the council denies liability. It denies it nominated the tenants and claims they were in occupation before April 2008, when the tenancy agreement was entered into between the council and the landlord.

The council also denies it made any of the alleged representations to Ms Penston or that it was negligent or in breach of its duty of care to her.

The case continues before Ms Justice Marie Baker.