Couple who bought apartment in Latvia for €2,000 readmitted to Dublin housing list after settling case

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A couple have resolved their dispute with Dublin City Council over being removed from its social housing list following the woman’s purchase of a €2,000 apartment in her native Latvia for her mother to live in.

The couple are to be placed on the list under a resolution of their High Court case.

Miroslav Kuznecova came here in 2005 and worked for several years as a cleaner but is currently on Jobseekers Allowance.

In 2013, she successfully applied to be put on the council's social housing list.

Sergeys Kuznecova, a maintenance worker, came here in 2011 and the couple married in 2016.

They live together in Ms Kuznecova's apartment on Fairview Strand, Dublin 3, which they rent for €500 monthly.

In their judicial review proceedings, it was claimed Ms Kuznecova bought an apartment for €2,000 in Latvia in 2015 in which her 65-year-old mother lives.

After communication from the council in 2016, she disclosed that property to it.

The couple were informed in letters from the council in October 2016 and August 2018 that, because Ms Kuznecova was the owner of property, they were not eligible to remain on the list for social housing support.

In its letters, the council stated applications are considered from persons who are in need of housing and unable to provide accommodation from their own resources.

It said the relevant Housing Regulations 2011 direct that applicants shall not be eligible for social housing support "where there is available to them alternative accommodation that they own and that would meet their housing need either by occupying it or selling it and using the proceeds of the sale to secure other suitable accommodation".

In its 2018 letter, the council said Ms Kuznecova, as a property owner, is not eligible to be put on the council's list for social housing support.

The couple then provided the council with documents stating the Latvian apartment had been transferred to Ms Kuznecova's brother and the siblings had agreed their mother would reside there.

The council responded it did not accept an applicant can claim a housing need while donating to a family member a property that could be used to reside in, or sold, to fund the purchase of alternative more suitable accommodation.

Represented by Feichin McDonagh SC, with Brendan Hennessy BL, instructed by solicitor Eileen McCabe, the couple argued the council failed to properly consider their application for social housing support in accordance with the relevant legislation and regulations.

They claimed the council took into account irrelevant factors, including Ms Kuznecova had bought an apartment in Latvia for her mother to reside in.

It was claimed the council's refusal was based on an error of fact, namely the Latvian apartment constituted alternative accommodation but, when that error was expressly made known to the council, it failed or refused to take the issue into account.

The council also failed to take into account the apartment is worth just €2,000 and is in Latvia when the couple live in Dublin, it was argued.

The council had not shown how selling it would enable the couple to buy alternative accommodation here, the couple said.

The counsel's actions breached the couple’s rights under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights, it was claimed.

After the couple secured leave for judicial review earlier this month, the matter was resolved on the basis of the couple being placed on the social housing support list.

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