Judge rules students should be let back into house in ownership row

Students spent two nights in hotel before court ordered they could stay in rented home

The judge  said the students were entitled to return back to the house, and said she was satisfied from the evidence before the court the receiver’s appointment was valid.

The judge said the students were entitled to return back to the house, and said she was satisfied from the evidence before the court the receiver’s appointment was valid.

 

Four students are to be allowed back into a house in Limerick they were renting following a High Court ruling.

On Thursday, Ms Justice Marie Baker extended an injunction directing the house owner, Sinead O’Connor, to hand over possession of the house at Lifford Park, South Circular Road, Limerick, to a bank-appointed receiver.

The judge made that order after being told the students spent the last two nights in a hotel after Mrs O’Connor allegedly told them to leave the house.

The students are caught up in a dispute between Mrs O’Connor, of Tullig, Castleisland, Co Kerry, and Karl O’Neill of KPMG, whom AIB appointed as receiver over the property in 2016.

Mrs O’Connor disputes the validity of the receiver’s appointment.

The receiver’s lawyers secured a temporary order requiring Mrs O’Connor and any others with knowledge of the order to hand over possession of the house.

It was claimed that 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 had to leave.

Not comfortable

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

It was alleged she arrived on Monday with a sleeping bag, accompanied by other persons who remained downstairs in the property until 12.30am on Tuesday. It was claimed the students were also told other people would be arriving at the house and a “rota” was being worked out for people to stay there for the next few weeks.

When the matter returned before the court on Thursday, John Kennedy BL, instructed by Sean Neville of Byrne Wallace solicitors, for the receiver, 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.

The receiver contended the order was not being complied with. Mrs O’Connor, representing herself, argued the order against her should be set aside on grounds including the receiver was not validly appointed.

Vindicate rights

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

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

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

Mrs O’Connor’s arguments were disputed by Mr Kennedy.

In her ruling, the judge, who welcomed Mrs O’Connor’s concession, said the students were entitled to return back to the house, said she was satisfied from the evidence before the court the receiver’s appointment was valid.

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