Council seeks to sell two Dublin city properties for €35,000

Deal to sell site made ‘on the basis that we haven’t got a leg to stand on legally’ – council

The council bought the houses at 60 and 61 North King Street more than 70 years ago for a road widening scheme that was subsequently abandoned. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

The council bought the houses at 60 and 61 North King Street more than 70 years ago for a road widening scheme that was subsequently abandoned. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

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Dublin City Council wants to sell two properties it has owned since 1949 for a bargain price of just €35,000 after it allowed them to be taken over by squatters.

The council admitted it had “not covered ourselves in glory” in allowing two former houses in Smithfield in the north inner city to fall into private hands but said the deal to sell the site was made “on the basis that we haven’t got a leg to stand on legally”.

The council bought the houses at 60 and 61 North King Street more than 70 years ago for a road widening scheme that was subsequently abandoned. In 1949 it granted a 20-year licence to the previous owners to continue to occupy the properties with the proviso the licence would terminate if the road widening went ahead.

The council did not repossess the buildings following the end of the lease in 1969. In 2004, it conducted a title search which showed the owner of a site to the rear had in 1981 granted a 35-year lease of the council properties to a car parts business.

In 2007, solicitors acting for the owner the site to the rear told the council their client was then in possession of the entire site and was claiming title under adverse possession, also known as “squatter’s rights”.

The council entered into negotiations with the solicitors but these were complicated by a claim by another party that they had used the site as a stables for many many years. The discussions ceased in 2015 the council said.

‘Defective’ title

Two years ago an Isle of Man registered company Yellowline Limited, which owns adjoining properties at 62-65 North King Street, informed the council it was now the owner of the site to the rear of 60-61, and wanted to buy out the council.

The council’s title to the properties, now derelict, was “defective” Paul Clegg of the planning division said. “We should have taken action back in ‘69, but we never took possession of the site,” he said. “We in the property section haven’t covered ourselves in glory in how we managed the title here, but we are where we are and this is defective title.”

Chief valuer David Garvey said Yellowline had initially offered the council €5,000. “We ended up getting €35,000 [in total], which in the circumstances is a good deal,” he said. “The deal is on the basis that we haven’t got a leg to stand on legally. If we go to court on an adverse possession case we will lose, that is the legal advice.”

It is understood Yellowline intends to build apartments on the site. Councillors have asked the officials to return to negotiations to seek to buy a number of the apartments, before they will agree to the site sale.

Councillors in recent days approved the sale of the Plough pub opposite the Abbey Theatre for €550,000 on the basis the council would have first refusal on the purchase of six apartments due to be developed on the site.