Judge orders landlord of Covid party house to take steps to reduce noise levels

Judge orders landlord of Covid party house to take steps to reduce noise levels
Landlord Fachtna O’Reilly at Cork Court for last week's case regarding an environmental noise complaint at his properties. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

The landlord who owns two of the student houses near UCC which have been dubbed the ‘Covid Party House’ and ‘Party Central’ was ordered to take measures to reduce noise levels at the properties.

That followed a submission from the landlord about extensive steps he had already taken since an environmental noise case was brought against him a week ago at Cork District Court.

Eamonn Murray, solicitor, asked Judge Olann Kelleher not to impose the order on Fachtna O’Reilly today and to simply adjourn the case with no order to see how things would go in light of the steps taken in the past week.

But David McCoy, solicitor for the residents who brought the complaint, wanted an order to be made. The significance of this is that any breaches of the order from now on would be punishable by a fine up to €1,000 and/or a 12-month jail term.

“If there is a Road to Damascus type conversion, my clients don’t trust the response,” Mr McCoy said.

Mr Murray said that in the case that went on last week at Cork District Court, Mr O’Reilly did not recognise himself from the way he was being described in evidence.

“He is a man of integrity. He came out badly in this. He has now taken any steps he could take,” Mr Murray said as he itemised those steps taken by the landlord.

On Friday, July 10, he spoke to the tenants in the ‘party’ houses and gave them a warning letter. The following day, he installed a system for logging noise levels at the houses. 

He gave the tenants formal written warnings last Monday and, on Wednesday, he installed CCTV outside both properties. He is also paying the costs the local residents incurred in bringing their complaint to court.

On the basis of those steps taken by Mr O’Reilly, Mr Murray asked for an adjournment and no order to be made on future behaviour.

However, Judge Olann Kelleher did impose the order on him formally requiring him to take the necessary measures to reduce noise levels.

The judge said he was conscious of the fact that Mr O’Reilly is 80 and recently widowed and accepted he had done the right thing in the past week but wondered why it had taken until now.

“This thing has been troubling the area for a considerable period of time. I hope this will be the end of it for all parties and that they (the residents) will have calm in their homes and everyone will go on and live peacefully and he (landlord Fachtna O'Reilly) won’t be getting calls at three o’clock in the morning,” Judge Kelleher said.

Last week, Judge Kelleher said, “I am accepting the evidence of the witnesses about the terrible time they have had. I accept the evidence of these people who are moving on in years. It is very sad to hear people cannot sleep at night.

“He (landlord Fachtna O’Reilly) says it is not his problem, it is the students. He has turned a blind eye. He hasn’t much interest in the residents of the area as far as I can see. He seems to answer all questions in a similar way, that the students have rights. But people living in the area have rights.” 

Sadie O’Mahony an elderly resident said when she engaged with the landlord before about noise, “All he would say is blame UCC, blame the pubs… It is the same thing all the time, ‘They (students) have rights’. You’d have no business talking to Mr O’Reilly, it is just the same thing all the time.” 

During last week’s case Mr O’Reilly said, in fairness to the residents who were complaining, “They have rights to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes. I am obliged to follow the law to make sure they get it.” 

But he said that when he was dealing with a noisy student, “The offender can tell me to get lost. I have to deal with the person causing problems diplomatically, inform them of their obligations to neighbours. Most times they adhere to these. Sometimes they do not. If they do not there is a process I put in place to get rid of them.”

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