An unemployed woman in dispute with Dublin City Council over arrears of rent has brought a legal challenge aimed at preventing the local authority from evicting her from what has been her family's home for more than two decades.
The High Court heard that if evicted Linda Brady, who has lived at her home at Moatview Avenue, Priorswood, Dublin since 1988, and three of her adult children, who are also unemployed, have nowhere to go.
They also claim that are unlikely to get accommodation from any other local authority. Last August she received a summons to appear before a sitting of Dublin District Court later this week to answer an application by the Council seeking possession of her home.
Since 2005 she accepts got into arrears with her rent account, which the Council claims is €4,500.
She claims she has made genuine efforts to address the arrears. However there are a number of substantial charges of about €2,500 made on her account, which Ms Brady disputes.
She claims has not received an adequate explanation of these charges from the Council. Her lawyers have sought, but have not obtained, an independent review of her dispute concerning the arrears.
In her action against the Council, Ms Brady, who claims the Council's actions are disproportionate, is seeking an order from the court quashing the notice to quit originally issued on December 9, 2010.
She is also seeking a number of declarations from the court including that the Council's decision to serve a notice to quit is inconsistent with the European Convention of Human Rights and a breach of her rights to natural and constitutional justice
Leave to challenge the proceedings was granted by Mr Justice George Birmingham who placed a stay on the District Court proceedings against Ms Brady.
The Judge, who made the matter returnable to early next month, granted leave following an ex parte (one side only) application.
Moving the application Fechin McDonagh SC or Ms Brady said this case was about arrears of rent. He said that when his client was served with the notice to quit last December she spoke to a council official and was told that if she paid €20 per week in addition to her rent no further action would be taken.
She made this payment every week until May, counsel added, when payments were missed. However they were made up in subsequent weeks. In August she received a summons stating the Council intended to apply to the district Court for an order for possession for her residence.
As a result of the summons she obtained legal advice in relation to the arrears dispute, counsel added.
In an affidavit Ms Brady, who had previously been employed as a cleaner, receives €168 per week in social welfare payments. €42 of that is paid to the Council towards her weekly rent of €71.60. The three sons who reside with her are all on social welfare payments.
She also told the court that their home has no central heating, and the family rely on coal and electric heaters to keep warm. Due to the expense of buying coal she has had to resort to burning old clothes.