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Judge 'would not have kept greyhound' in Dublin city-centre flats

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Thomas Whelan
Thomas Whelan

A JUDGE has said he would not keep a greyhound in flats rented out by a landlord who failed to comply with improvement notices served on him by Dublin City Council.

Landlord Thomas Whelan of Oakdale Close, Firhouse, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty to eight charges for breaching prohibitive notices warning him not to re-let flats, and failing to comply with improvement notices in relation to number 33 Rathmines Road Lwr, in Rathmines, Dublin 6.

There were 51 breaches of housing regulations and following and the improvement notices were issued following an inspection by a Dublin City Council official in 2014. 

Witness Lorraine Brown told Judge John O'Neill at Dublin District Court that in April 2014 she carried out an inspection on the mid-terrace house which is sub-divided into five self-contained flats. There were concerns it was not in compliance with housing standards.

Windows were broken, there was evidence of dampness, heating appliances were not capable of being operated independently and there was no emergency evacuation plan, she said.

She told the court there were no fire blankets nor were there wired smoke alarms in all the flats and she observed the growth of mould in two of them. The council inspector told the court that a fridge-freezer was not provided in three of the flats.

One of them did not have a microwave oven or proper ventilation in the living room and a dryer was not in working order, the court heard.

She also told the court that the flats did not have the electrical certificates that were required. In the back yard, a roof on a shed was sagging and a pipe from a boiler was decaying, she also said.

A notice was issued in June 2014 requiring Whelan to fix the problems within 70 days. Prohibition notices were also served stating that two of the flats must not be rented out by the landlord, Ms Brown said.

However, both of them were later re-let by Whelan.

She said that of the 51 breaches identified the electrical certificates remain outstanding and that was most serious problem on the list.

Whelan told the court that he is €1.5m in debt and when the improvement notices were issued he did not have funds. He had also been forced to sell a number of properties as a result of the property crash, the court head.

He said the electrical improvements were 80 per cent complete but had been delayed by ill health of the contractor carrying out the work.

The charges under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act can result in a fine of €5,000 per offence. Judge O'Neill heard that Dublin City Council, which brought the case, would also be seeking to be awarded prosecution costs.

Judge O'Neill noted this was the seventh date the case was before the court and the improvement notices were served more than two years ago. The judge said he thought that an electrical contractor would have jumped at the chance of doing a job of such magnitude. He described it as worrying that the remedial work has not been completed.

He said he recalled being furnished with photographs of the property and said he would not put a greyhound in it. However, he also noted that Whelan had no prior convictions and co-operated with the council which was allowed access to the property.

The landlord also told the judge there are currently no tenants in the property and he gave an undertaking not to rent out the flats until all the electrical certificates have been issued.

Judge O'Neill adjourned the case until a date later this month for the rest of the work to be completed and for a "clean bill of health" to be issued.