A young family who had rented a house in Co Cork from Fianna Fáil’s councilor Colm Kelleher had to file a case with the rental watchdog to get their €960 deposit back.
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) ruled that Colm Tierney and his wife Siobhan Tierney are also entitled to €150 in damages after waiting months for their bail to be returned.
They moved into the four bedroom house in Clonmore, Mallow in 2016 after coming across an advert on Daft.ie.
In June 2021, Mr Tierney texted Mr Kelleher to say they were ending their tenancy in Clonmore and moving out by 16 July.
The landlord had made specific demands before the deposit could be returned. We have attempted multiple times to contact the landlord to arrange for these requests to be completed and he has not responded to our communications
Colm Kelleher replied, “Thanks for the tip. I will arrange an inspection of the house and if everything is ok I will get your deposit back the same day.”
The tenants hadn’t heard from him and Mr Tierney got in touch to see when the deposit would be returned.
The tenants explained the reason for the dispute with the RTB: “The landlord had made specific applications before the deposit could be refunded. We have made several attempts to contact the landlord to arrange for these requests to be completed and he has not responded to our communications.”
During the five-year term, they signed two leases. The first was in the name of former Lord Mayor Colm Kelleher, while the second named him and his brother Seamus as joint landlords.
However, the tenants said they paid their deposit to Colm, contacted him about any problems they had, and dealt only with him throughout their tenancy. When they brought the case to RTB, Mr. Kelleher told the rental guard that his brother Seamus was the landlord.
“At no point in the five years that we’ve rented from Colm Kelleher have we been in contact with another person,” Mr. Tierney said Irish Independent.
When Mr. Tierney brought this to the attention of RTB, they responded by saying, “During the evaluation phase, Mr. Colm advised Kelleher that Seamus Kelleher was the landlord.”
Seamus Kelleher was named as the landlord in the notice of determination, but the tenants disputed this with RTB. Both rental contracts were signed by Colm Kelleher and his cell phone number was given as the contact person.
The rent was initially €240 per week, but later increased to €280 during the tenancy.
Mr Tierney claimed they had had maintenance issues over the five years and found Colm Kelleher slow to make repairs. In an email to RTB, tenants said they were once left without a working shower for two weeks.
Mr Tierney provided copies of texts sent to Colm Kelleher regarding heating and shower issues during the rental. The RTB has not made a decision on the alleged maintenance issues.
As they tried to get their bail back, Mr. Kelleher pointed out some problems.
“He started by saying the property had been left in a disgraceful state and that he was shocked by its condition,” Mr Tierney said.
“He had admitted to me on that phone call that he had not yet visited the house, citing photographs his brother had sent him.
“He said there were 10 small disposable flower pots left in the back garden, which was true as I forgot to throw them away. He said the laminate was cracked on one of the kitchen doors, which is correct as my son, who was 2 at the time, was cracking.
“He then accused me of stealing his bedroom furniture as three of the rooms were left without beds.
“He didn’t recall us telling him to remove the original beds before we moved in as we had our own.”
The Tierneys got their deposit back after the RTB ruled in their favor.
Mr. Kelleher was contacted for comment.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/family-who-rented-a-house-from-fianna-fail-councillor-win-case-to-get-their-deposit-back-41952341.html A family who rented a house in Cork from Fianna Fáil’s councilor Colm Kelleher wins the case to get their bail back