Paddy Cosgraves Web Summit has filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court to try to overturn a tribunal that found its employees caused €100,000 in flood damage to a rented home – by dumping coffee waste into a kitchen sink.
eb Summit Services has rented Strathmore, a 250m2 five bedroom house in Dartry, Dublin 6, since July 2015. It is used as temporary accommodation for visitors or new employees of the Dublin based company which hosts global technology and business conferences.
On July 12 last year, landlord Aidan Hall served the company with an eviction notice, although he later accepted that the notice was invalid because it was served at the rental property rather than Web Summit’s office.
Hall also initiated a case before the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) seeking damages for flooding at the property, which was rented at €3,900 a month. A judge awarded him €14,633 after deducting €5,310 for the cost Web Summit had to incur in finding alternative accommodation for two weeks. Web Summit appealed that finding to an RTB tribunal, which heard the case on May 16.
He said the garden was not properly maintained, missing “a tree or two”.
On June 29, the court increased Hall’s price to €20,000 after blaming Web Summit for damage caused to the property by a clogged water main. Hall said the total repair cost was €100,000 but he accepted that the RTB maximum award was capped at €20,000.
At the hearing, Web Summit, represented by four attorneys, said it was informed by residents that on March 24, 2021, water leaked through the floor. On March 26, it informed Hall’s agent.
DC Drain Cleaners later said a clog was caused by coffee granules, grease and other foods placed down the kitchen sink drain, but Web Summit attorney Colmcille Kitson said “structural damage” caused the clog, not that Granules. The lawyer said water gushing through the floor indicated something “just went wrong”.
He suggested that a washing machine or dishwasher cycle might have caused the problem. He said the landlord’s damage estimate was “extraordinary and extortionate” and put the cost at between €8,000 and €12,000.
Alan McKenna, Hall’s agent, said he inspected the property on March 30 and took photos. He found a “third lock” and CCTV cameras installed without the landlord’s consent. He also found that the door intercom was damaged or missing.
Inside, he found rising damp, baseboards peeling from the walls, water rising off the tiles in the “saturated” kitchen, and floorboards rising in the dining room. A toilet seat and a television were “missing”. He said the garden had not been properly maintained, with rotting wood paneling, “a tree or two” missing and a rabbit hutch installed.
He said there were two washing machines, but Web Summit hired a plumber to turn one off without notifying the landlord. A plumber identified “a lot of coffee waste, grease and leftover food” as the cause of the blockage, which had to be vacuumed off mechanically. He believed the blockage existed for at least four weeks before the landlord was notified.
The €100,000 repair bill included the removal and replacement of all ground floor tiles, joinery, baseboards, water damaged plasterboard, timber flooring and underfloor heating.
The arbitral tribunal found that Web Summit had caused the damage in breach of its legal obligations and that it exceeded normal wear and tear. It turned out that the clog was likely caused by small build-ups of coffee granules and food build-up.
Given the damage evident on March 30, it noted that the blockage should have been apparent before March 24 – and failure to notify the landlord promptly “exacerbated the damage”. It found “substantial damage” in excess of the €20,000 it could award.
It ruled that the landlord was not responsible for the cost of moving out of Web Summit. It found that the installation of the video camera and new lock, the damage to the intercom and the missing toilet seat constituted a breach of duty by the tenant. Complaints about the garden have not been upheld but the TV should be replaced before the lease ends.
Last week, Web Summit appealed the High Court’s €20,000 judgment. In a tweet, Cosgrave said: “Like many others, we are dismayed by the RTB. But unlike many others, we are fortunate to have the resources to take on them.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/web-summit-sues-after-being-told-to-pay-landlord-20000-over-coffee-flood-and-loo-seat-ruling-41910510.html Web Summit is suing after being told to pay landlord €20,000 over coffee flood and toilet seat conviction