A tenant’s action against his landlords claiming he was threatened with instantaneous eviction by masked men has been settled.
Luke Barnett sued landlords Michael Smith, editor of Village Magazine, and Ian Lumley, head of advocacy with An Taisce, alleging that he was last week threatened with eviction from his central Dublin flat if he did not sign a piece of paper stating he would voluntarily leave within five days.
He alleged that he felt “intimidated and scared” and had no choice but to sign the paper agreeing to leave the property on Ormond Quay Upper.
In recent days the High Court made orders directing that Mr Smith and Mr Lumley furnish Mr Barnett, who receives the housing assistance payment (HAP), with keys to the new lock allegedly installed at the rented property. The order prohibited the respondents, and anyone having notice of the order, from interfering with Mr Barnett’s use of his home until his High Court case was resolved.
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Counsel came on record for the respondents, but no replying affidavits were filed to the court. Mr Barnett’s claims are denied. Mr Justice Conor Dignam was informed on Friday that the case had been resolved.
Mr Barnett’s counsel, Eoin Morris, said the matter settled on confidential terms. He asked for the proceedings to be adjourned until March with a view to them being struck out at that point.
Previously, in securing the orders, Mr Barnett (43) claimed he was woken up on January 16th last by loud banging. He said he opened his door to find Mr Smith, Mr Lumley and masked men standing there. He claimed one of the masked men placed a padlock on his door and Mr Barnett was told the locks on the main door of the Ormond Quay building had been changed.
“I was repeatedly threatened with an instantaneous eviction were I not to sign the paper as requested. I was told to put on my shoes and that I could think about it on the quays,” he said, adding that he captured the incident on video.
Mr Barnett claimed Mr Smith had messaged him on December 22nd to say he would be evicted in a month’s time due to an incident with the tenant of another flat in the same building. Mr Barnett alleged the other tenant attacked him after he asked during the night for him to down his music. He said another resident, a woman, had to pull the man off him and Mr Barnett then called gardaí.
For €800 per month, Mr Barnett said, he had exclusive occupancy at the Ormond Quay flat, but shared facilities in the wider building with other residents. He said he received HAP because he gets a permanent disability allowance owing to a neurological condition that includes epilepsy.
Following Mr Smith’s alleged message, Mr Barnett said he made a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and this was due to be heard on January 27th. He claimed he never received any notice to quit or other document in writing from the landlords.
Mr Smith and Mr Lumley responded to correspondence from Mr Barnett’s lawyers by saying he did not have a tenancy agreement and is an unreliable interlocutor, he said. They also alleged he had received repeated warnings, including written warnings, over his behaviour and claimed he has engaged in repeated anti-social behaviour that is documented, he said.
Mr Barnett denies the claims made by the landlords, who deny his allegations.