Judge asks Dublin Council to complete work on woman's flat described as 'unliveable'

Judge Terence O’Sullivan, awarded Joanne Myers €25,000 for having to put up with black mould in her cold and damp apartment in Dolphin House, Rialto
Judge asks Dublin Council to complete work on woman's flat described as 'unliveable'

Ray Managh

A judge has asked Dublin City Council to complete the finishing touches to updating a flat which a mother described as having been “unliveable” for years for herself and her two daughters.

Judge Terence O’Sullivan, awarded 40-year-old Joanne Myers damages of €25,000 against the local authority for having to put up with black mould in her cold and damp apartment in Dolphin House, Rialto.

Unpaid rent

He reduced his award by €5,200 for unpaid rent she had withheld from the housing department as her way of trying to get her message of distress across to the council.

Myers told the Circuit Civil Court Thursday that at one stage she had withheld just over €12,000 in rent underpayments but had, by a huge effort, reduced that by around €7,000 in recent years.

“When I moved in I had to tear down the wallpaper and lift the carpets because of the state they were in,” she told her counsel Mark J Byrne. “I wanted to make the place my own but no matter how often I would paint over black mould it would return.”

Mr Byrne, who appeared with Deborah Crowley of Ferrys Solicitors, told the court the flat was for a number of years going back as far as 2013 in uninhabitable conditions.

Barrister John P Kehoe for the council, said he had received instructions from his client to assure the court that any further remedial work necessary would be carried out by the council.

Interior décor

Mr Kehoe told the court the interior décor of a flat was the responsibility of the tenant and council workers had from time to time carried out works, including the installation of ventilation ducts, in Ms Myers’ premises.

Judge O’Sullivan said local authorities had to do their best with housing stock much of it built as far back as the 1950s, but he accepted from photographs produced to the court that Ms Myers had been faced with problems with mould which he accepted was hazardous.

He said the High Court had made it quite clear that what might have been acceptable in the fifties is not acceptable in this part of the 21st century, particularly for a woman with children.

Judge O’Sullivan said there was still evidence of black mould in the kitchen and bathroom of Ms Myers’ two-bedroomed flat and, although he would not make an order against the council, he would require it to carry out further remedial work.

“We live in a cold damp climate and tenants would be expected to deal with any small non-hazardous amounts of black mould,” Judge O’Sullivan said.

After assessing damages he adjourned the case for mention in four months time to allow the council carry out further remedial work.

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