A judge has refused to evict an eight-month-old baby, its parents and two siblings after Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council claimed they did not meet the criteria for a tenancy of a two-bed house in Co Dublin.
The decision taken by Judge James McCourt in the Circuit Civil Court on Monday was met with applause by the family’s friends.
Dylan Mooney’s wife Gemma burst into tears following Judge McCourt’s decision to overturn a District Court order which had ordered them to vacate their home in St Kevin’s Villas, Sallynoggin.
Lorry driver Mr Mooney told his counsel, Sean Beatty, that eviction would be devastating for the family, leaving them with nowhere else to live.
Following Judge McCourt’s decision and refusal to grant the council its legal costs in opposing Mr Mooney’s appeal, People Before Profit TD for Dún Laoghaire Richard Boyd Barrett said: “I think this a right and just decision and prevent’s a family being made homeless. Clearly this was their family home.”
The court heard that in the last week, Mr Mooney’s mother left hospital in order to die in the presence of her family at the home in which she had lived with her son since he was born. “There is a very sentimental attachment of our family with the house,” Mr Mooney told the court.
The judge heard that in order for consideration of a new tenancy, Mr Mooney had to meet the council’s housing allocation policy, whereby he had to have lived in the house for five years prior to his mother’s death, or that he had to have lived for at least 10 of the 15 years prior to her death.
The council claimed Mr Mooney failed to meet all the criteria, missing the 10-year requirement by a year and two months.
He had moved back into the house following his mother’s death and had been joined by his wife and two children, the court heard. The baby had been born following their move.
The council described Mr Mooney to the court as a trespasser and had been granted a possession order by the District Court.
Judge Mc Court told Mr Beatty, who appeared with Daly Khurshid Solicitors, that he was satisfied Mr Mooney had lived in the house for the required amount of time to satisfy the council’s house-allocation criteria.
He had lived in the property for eight years and 10 months as an adult and for more than the alleged shortfall of 14 months as a minor, the court heard.
“It is accepted by the council that Mr Mooney had been included in the rent assessment for his mother which is a significant factor,” Judge McCourt said.
“I have enormous sympathy with any housing authority in trying to distribute meagre supplies of houses to satisfy the overwhelming demand. It is akin to the distribution of the five loaves and two fishes,” the judge said.
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“There aren’t enough houses to go around and it is not the fault of local authorities. I don’t like to see anyone skipping a queue but I don’t accept that Mr Mooney was a trespasser.”
Judge McCourt said the question was whether it was proportionate and reasonable to grant what was an eviction order, adding that it is his view that it would be disproportionate and unreasonable in all the circumstances. The judge said he would therefore allow Mr Mooney’s appeal but would not make an order for costs against the council.
“These are difficult cases, but the facts in this case are unique. I have a lot of sympathy for councils which have little or no houses and yet have to deal with a problem not of their making.
“It is all very unfortunate, but I do not think any use would be served by making an eviction order,” Judge McCourt said.