A woman whose possessions were put into storage during an illegal eviction carried out without warning has said she will pursue landlord Marc Godart for payment after being granted enforcement orders for more than €15,000 along with costs against one of his rental companies.
Lizet Pena-Herrera, a psychologist originally from Bolivia, said an apology for what Judge Marie Quirke described in the District Court on Friday as a “horrendous experience” would be welcome but what she most wanted was for Mr Godart not to treat others in way she had been.
Ms Pena-Herrera had sought the enforcement order against Green Label Short Lets Ltd with an address at Reuben House, Reuben Street, Dublin 8, after she had been awarded sums of €1,000 and €14,433.93 by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
The first award was made after she was served with an eviction notice days after an inspection of the house where she was renting a room in Cork Street. Dublin City Council had made the inspection on foot of a complaint she had made about overcrowding during the pandemic.
Up to eight people lived in the four-bedroom house at different times, she said, and there was no consultation over people she did not know moving in or out.
The situation contributed to her not being able to return to Bolivia for her father’s funeral when documentation she needed to get back into Ireland was sent to the house but she did not receive it and she “suffered severely mentally, professionally and financially” as a result of the overall experience.
Within days of the determination last August that the eviction notice had been “invalid as an act of penalisation” by the company, but more than a week before her notice period was due to expire, she was the victim of what the RTB subsequently described as “an egregious unlawful eviction” carried out “without warning” while she was in work.
In an affidavit, Ms Pena-Herrera said the first she knew of the eviction being carried out was when she received a phone call to tell her that possessions, including all of the clothing she was not wearing, her passport and other documentation, including immigration papers, her father’s death certificate, her jewellery and personal laptop, had been transferred to a storage facility on Kylemore Road in Ballyfermot.
Having been left with nowhere to live and not owning a car, the court heard that it took her several weeks to regain possession of the items but that some had been lost or broken and were never recovered.
The eviction ultimately led to the second RTB award in her favour. Neither of the awards were appealed by the company or anyone connected to Mr Godart, a controversial landlord from Luxembourg whose treatment of other tenants has been the subject of considerable media reporting.
Mr Godart was not represented in court. Attempts to contact him following Friday’s hearing were unsuccessful.
Speaking outside the court, Ms Pena-Herrera said: “It’s so painful. It’s so difficult. I can’t avoid feeling this way because this was an unfair situation I went through. I didn’t deserve this. I paid my rent. I was a good tenant.
“I was trying to keep the place in proper condition. And just because I raised my concern about the overcrowding, the whole situation happened. And on top of that, I couldn’t even go home and say goodbye to my father for the last time.”
She said she would continue to pursue the case but that what she really wanted was “Mr Godart to learn a lesson and don’t do this to anyone else. That’s what I expect. To be honest, money comes and goes, I am aware of that. But my father’s life will never come back”.
Ms Pena-Herrera said the damage is what Mr Godart is causing to other people. “I don’t know who else is after me. So I expect him to stop this. I’m living in this country for years. I love it like my own country and I had great landlords in the past. I never experienced this before and I don’t want anyone else to. So I expect him to stop.”