Multiple affidavits accused the owners' management company (OMC) of a Dublin housing estate of ignoring serious fire safety concerns, The Ditch can reveal.
Residents of Belmayne, a north Dublin estate built by a Stanley Holdings subsidiary during the Celtic Tiger, had to be evacuated in 2012 after the Dublin Fire Brigade identified dangerous defects. Five years later, an independent report commissioned by Keenan Property Management (KPM), which was responsible for the maintenance of the estate, found hazardous defects in hundreds of houses, including issues with poorly fitted fire stopping to party walls. Other independent reports have also identified similar.
Court filings from 2018 claimed a former director of the estate’s OMC, told the property management company responsible for Belmayne to “sit on” the Thornton Surveyors report and instructed them to adopt an official stance of ignorance regarding fire safety concerns.
The allegations surfaced during a 2018 legal case between several residents of the estate concerning the contested legitimacy of two directorships within the OMC. The case was settled out of court.
‘For reasons unknown, the board refused to hire independent fire safety consultants’
Belmayne’s owners’ management company board of directors wouldn’t hire a fire safety expert to carry out an investigation into potential fire safety issues, according to an affidavit filed by Stiofain Macdaibhead.
“For reasons unknown, the board refused to hire independent fire safety consultants to investigate potential issues,” wrote Macdaibhead, former general manager of KPM.
Macdaibhead said that a director of the OMC, Aisling Murray, on multiple occasions issued directions about the OMC “party line” on fire safety issues – which was to be one of ignorance.
Macdaibhaid also noted that other members of the OMC had “consistently” requested the board engage with independent experts.
KPM stopped managing Belmayne shortly after the legal proceedings ended in 2018. The estate is now managed by O’Connor Property Management, which in 2019 wrote to homeowners and told them they were aware of fire safety defects.
The 2019 letter further stated the company was “unaware” of whose responsibility it is to fix defects and how much these repairs would cost. The independent report carried out by Thornton Surveyors two years previous however found the original developer and builder to be financially responsible.
Sit on it
In the summer of 2017 KPM hired Thornton Surveyors to inspect Belmayne for potential defects.
Surveyors discovered extremely hazardous defects in hundreds of houses, including issues with poorly fitted fire protection and balconies that weren’t up to standard. The report stated that the developer of the estate was to be responsible for carrying out works to address these issues.
In Macdaibhead’s affidavit he claimed that Murray, a director of the estate’s management company, told KPM to “sit” on this report. And when KPM escalated the issue of fire safety, the affidavit claimed Murray expressed concerns about facing embarrassment having previously opposed calls for investigations.
A separate affidavit filed by a former resident at Belmayne stated the leadership of the OMC had handled fire safety issues “inappropriately.”
The same affidavit also accused Murray of blocking several Belmayne residents from becoming directors of the OMC. During various meetings Murray refused to listen to residents who had stopped paying their OMC fees because of their fire safety concerns, claimed this affidavit.
In her own affidavit filed during the 2018 legal proceedings, Murray denied all the allegations made against her. She declined to comment when contacted by The Ditch.
‘The alternative is to wait for a fire to break out for action to be taken’
In 2019 O’Connor Property Management wrote to residents saying the board of directors was aware of defects related to fire safety and balconies, despite remedial works having previously been carried out on multiple properties.
Last year the Business Post reported that Stanley Holdings subsidiary Kitara had entered negotiations with Belmayne residents regarding repairs to their homes.
Former and current Belmayne residents who spoke to The Ditch maintain that many properties in the estate remain firetraps. Several of these homes are the subject of litigation, including one sold in 2023.
The estate is not included in the government’s redress scheme that will address defective homes.
Former and current residents of Belmayne told The Ditch that their concerns have been ignored by successive governments. “We are now calling on a fully transparent and independent fire safety inspection in Belmayne – without the influence or interference of the OMC, developer, government and Dublin City Council. The alternative is to wait for a fire to break out for action to be taken.” said a spokesperson.