A Dublin landlord has said he has still not heard from a former tenant who owes him €22,750 in unpaid rent but went to the European Championships rather than attend a court hearing.
It took Gerry Butler about a year to chase down the back-rent owed by tenant Paul Kelly on a €1,350-a-month apartment in the Dublin suburb of Malahide.
Mr Butler told The Irish Times the process was significantly delayed by the "bureaucratic red tape" of the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), the body designed to mediate in disagreements between landlords and tenants.
Initially having paid his rent, Mr Kelly allowed a debt of €23,750 to accrue that Mr Butler did not immediately notice as it was paid into a pension fund. Mr Kelly admitted liability to the PRTB and promised to pay the money back, but Mr Butler was forced to take the matter to the Circuit Court.
"This guy decided to go to the European Championships and I am sitting at home on the couch out €23,000," Mr Butler said after last month's court case, which heard Mr Kelly had gone to France.
“This guy owed us a lot of money and I tried to be nice and fair, as you would, and if he had an issue we would sit down and work it out.”
granted a judgment of €22,750 against Mr Kelly of Somerton, Portrane Road,
The court heard he had made an arrangement to pay off his debt at a rate of €500 a month but only two instalments had been made.
Mr Butler’s barrister told the judge there was no appearance in court for, or on behalf of, Mr Kelly who, he had been informed, had left for the European Championship.
“Can you imagine someone having the neck not to attend the Circuit Court and saying they were attending the European Championships? I don’t know how anyone treats a judge like that,” Mr Butler said.
Mr Kelly declined to comment when contacted by The Irish Times.
He first leased the apartment in 2013. Initially he paid his rent and in every other way was a good tenant, Mr Butler said.
After a time the payments stopped but because the money was going into a pension fund, Mr Butler only noticed when he later received a fund statement.
What really annoyed him, he said, was that during this time Mr Kelly had signed an extension on his lease even though he had stopped paying the rent.
It took nine months to get the case heard before the PRTB, Mr Butler said, and even though Mr Kelly agreed to repay the money, the issue would ultimately have to proceed to the Circuit Court. By last week, the entire process had lasted about a year.
Mr Butler explained that when the non-payments initially emerged, Mr Kelly had claimed to be undergoing financial difficulties.
Had Mr Kelly been intent on paying him back, he said, and explained his desire to go to the European Championships, there would have been no issue with delaying the repayments by a couple of months.
But in the end he believes he had no intention of honouring the debt and says he will now instruct his solicitor to pursue the money.
“If you walked into a store and robbed a bottle of Coke the police would be dying to get you but they have no interest in this. It’s a civil action.”
The system will only deter people from investing in property, Mr Butler believes. Between being unable to raise rents, the number of charges and the workings of the PRTB, he said more people are investing in the UK property market.
Now that it’s over, he said: “I wouldn’t use the word relieved. Our view was we have been wronged and we will fix it.”