Dispute over service charges at Limerick student park

A LANDLORD who owns an apartment at the Groody Student Park in Castletroy has been ordered to pay outstanding service charges to the management company.

A LANDLORD who owns an apartment at the Groody Student Park in Castletroy has been ordered to pay outstanding service charges to the management company.

Groody Property Management Ltd, which maintains the apartment complex on behalf of landlords successfully sued Kieran Moylan after he refused to pay service charges relating to 2011.

Limerick District Court was told there was a “huge history” to the case and that were a number of ongoing difficulties between Mr Moylan and the management company.

Judge Aeneas McCarthy was told there are 88 apartments in the complex – which is located near Groody Roundabout – and that each of the 29 landlords are shareholders in the management company.

Solicitor Brendan O’Sullivan said his client had not paid all of the service charges owed as he believed the decision to set the rate was invalid.

In his evidence, Mr Moylan, who is from Cork, said he and a number of other landlords had expressed concerns and “raised questions” over aspects of the company accounts at the 2010 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and at a subsequent EGM in May, 2010.

He said he did not receive notification of last year’s AGM and that he believed there had been a deliberate attempt to exclude him and a number of other landlords from the meeting.

“We were given the impression at the previous AGM (2010) that we were expelled,” he said adding that there had been a “breakdown in trust” between himself and the management company.

Mr Moylan, who acquired an apartment at the Groody Student Park in 2003 said he had raised concerns over monies that were being paid by the management company to another company – Groody Student Lettings Ltd –which is the letting agent for most of the apartments in the complex.

“People didn’t know there were two companies,” he said.

Denise Downes who runs the office of the management company told the court she had posted the notification of the 2010 AGM to Mr Moylan and she said it was “outrageous” to suggest that she had deliberately not sent it to him.

“Most definitely, I did send it,” she said adding that there had never been a problem in the past.

Ms Downes, who is the owner of Groody Student Lettings Ltd, said the 2011 service charges were approved at last year’s AGM and that a bill was subsequently sent to Mr Moylan giving him three months to pay.

She explained the service charge related to the ongoing maintenance of the apartment complex and that it also was used to pay for items such as insurance, rubbish collection and the provision of internet. “Everyone benefits,” she said.

Mr O’Sullivan told the court that he had advised his client to pay some of the monies owed because he acknowledged that works had been done and that “somebody had cut the grass”.

Chartered accountant Conor Pine said financial statements for Groody Property Management Ltd were presented at the following year’s AGM and that projected accounts for the forthcoming year were also presented to the landlords annually.

Under cross examination, Mr Pine agreed with Mr O’Sullivan that the accounts included several “cross charges” from Groody Student Lettings Ltd.

These, he said, included payments towards the salary of a caretaker as Groody Property Management Ltd does not have any employees.

Mr Pine denied he had an “obvious conflict” and said he stood over the financial statements.

The witness agreed that the management company’s accounts were not audited as is required in Mr Moylan’s lease agreement.

Mr O’Sullivan suggested that everything had been “muddled together” and that his clients “have no idea” what they are paying for.

Following the lengthy hearing, Judge McCarthy ruled in favour of the management company.

After deducting some monies from the balance owed, the judge ordered Mr Moylan to pay €1178.21.

He made no order regarding costs.

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