Mother in council battle over housing list decision

A woman and her son who are at immediate risk of being made homeless have launched a High Court action against Dublin City Council’s refusal to credit her with eight years she says she spent on the local authority’s housing list.

The action has been brought by Noeleen Farrell who the court heard was deemed in 1998 by Dublin City Council (DCC) as having a housing need. She has been in receipt of rent supplement since then.

As no local authority house was available for her then she moved into private accommodation where she remained for four years. She had to move in 2002. She sought housing assistance from DCC but was deemed not to have enough points to qualify for a house.

She remained in the private rental market and in receipt of rent supplement. She went to live at an address at Greencastle Avenue, Coolock, in Dublin 17 with her teenage son and says she informed DCC of the move.

In 2006 she was visited by an agent of DCC, which she believed to be a review of her housing application. She was subsequently informed that this was a new application and that her time on the housing list prior to 2006 would not be counted toward her current application.

She appealed that decision, which was refused by DCC in June. DCC said it had conducted a review of its housing needs in 2005 during which it wrote to her at the address it had on file for her. DCC said the letters were sent to the address she had lived in up until 2002 when she had to move out. DCC has failed to produce these alleged letters and has said they were destroyed. Because of the lack of response, DCC said Ms Farrell’s application for housing was cancelled.

Her barrister, Siobhan Phelan SC, said if Ms Farrell had been credited with the total amount of time she has been on the housing list she would be near the top of that list.

Counsel said there was urgency in the case because Ms Farrell has been served with a notice to quit by her landlord and “was at immediate risk of being made homeless”.

Counsel said it is Ms Farrell’s case that DCC were wrong not to give Ms Farrell credit for the time spent on the list prior to 2006.

In her action against Dublin City Council, Ms Farrell seeks an order quashing the council’s refusal to credit the household times before September 2006 as part of her application for housing. She also seeks various declarations including that the decision was an error of law and that it is both irrational and unreasonable. She further seeks a declaration that the decision is a breach of her Constitutional rights as well as her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan. The judge made the matter returnable to a date in October.


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