herald

Thursday 27 July 2017

Mum and daughter who owe €11k rent still in Dalkey home

Laraine Johnson and daughter Christa at the house in Dalkey
Laraine Johnson and daughter Christa at the house in Dalkey

Two women who have been living rent-free in a house in Dalkey with sea views have appealed against a court decision that ordered them to leave by January 6.

The Circuit Civil Court last month told Laraine Johnson (70) and her daughter Christa (38) to vacate Twin Trees on the Nerano Road after it heard that they were no longer paying rent.

At that stage they were more than €11,000 in arrears.

Renege

Judge Jacqueline Linnane, who normally gives only seven days' leeway to those who renege on rent payments, said she would allow the Johnsons to spend Christmas and New Year in the house.

However, the pair then appealed to the High Court.

The appeal process usually takes two to three months, but landlord James Foley lodged a motion to fast-track the case on the basis that no rent was being paid.

"That motion was successful and the case is due before the High Court on Monday," Mr Foley's solicitor, Ken J Byrne, told the Herald.

At the Circuit Civil Court hearing last month, Mr Foley sought to enforce a determination of the Residential Tenancies Board of January 16, 2016 in which the Johnsons had agreed to vacate Twin Trees on June 3 last year.

Under that agreement, the Johnsons had also agreed that they would continue to pay rent at €1,600-a-month until the day they vacated the property.

They had not disputed that they had not paid rent.

Judge Linnane made an order for possession of Twin Trees in favour of Mr Foley.

She also granted judgment for €11,200 of unpaid rent against the Johnsons in favour of Mr Foley.

After the ruling last month, the Johnsons told the Herald that they were facing homelessness.

They insisted that they were far from "privileged and wealthy" but were instead unable to leave the property after falling on hard times.

They said they had lived at Twin Trees for 11 years.

Laraine Johnson was an opera singer and composer until she became ill.

She then became a music teacher until almost completely losing her sight.

Recession

Her daughter, who studied psychology, worked in a number of jobs until the recession and has been struggling to find work since.

"For a long time we both worked hard and then things slowly disintegrated," Christa Johnson said.

"We're in a really bad state. It's our lives."

The pair declined to make any comment when approached this week.

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