Under Section 15(1) of the Residential Tenancies 2004, a landlord of a rental dwelling owes to each person, who could be potentially affected (e.g. by anti-social behaviour), a duty to enforce the obligations of the tenant under the tenancy. In cases where a landlord fails to enforce a tenant’s obligation under Section 16 of the Act, a directly and adversely affected individual may take a case against the landlord through the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). The case will be heard by an independent RTB adjudicator, who can direct the landlord to enforce their tenants’ obligations. Landlords can also be ordered to make substantial payments to affected parties for the distress caused by their failure to enforce their tenants’ obligations. Please note that third party issues in relation to the standard and maintenance of a rental dwelling are a matter for local authority enforcement and the RTB does not have jurisdiction to deal with such complaints. It should also be noted that in order to provide a fair and neutral service to all parties, the RTB cannot provide legal advice or specific guidance to either party in relation to their dispute.
The affected individual must first attempt to resolve the matter directly with the relevant parties to the tenancy and may be required to verify this if they subsequently make a formal RTB dispute application. If the affected party is unable to identify or contact the landlord, they can make a formal request for the landlord’s and/or letting agent’s (where applicable) name and address (if registered) from the RTB under Section 77(3) of the Act. This application form must be fully completed and submitted by post to obtain contact information (e-mail or telephone requests are not accepted). If the rental property in question is not registered, the RTB may take enforcement action against the landlord in question.
Formal application for RTB dispute resolution
If the initial attempt to satisfactorily resolve the matter directly with the relevant parties to the tenancy fails, the affected individual may make an application for dispute resolution to the RTB. In accordance with the Act, this application can only be made by the affected individual, or a residents committee and not by a representative. The applicant should enclose relevant documentary evidence in support of their case e.g. log of events, photographs, witness statements or Garda reports (where applicable). The applicant must also submit evidence that they informed the relevant parties to the tenancy of the alleged breach of the tenants’ obligations.
The Dispute application form (including the applicant’s name but not address) and all supporting documentary evidence will be copied in full to the landlord and tenant(s), who will also be invited to attend the Dispute Resolution Hearing. The RTB adjudicator can only consider documentation circulated to all parties. The applicant may send a representative to the RTB hearing in their place, or alternatively submit a written statement in their absence for circulation to the parties at the hearing, so long as the RTB is notified sufficiently in advance. RTB adjudication proceedings and the subsequent adjudicator’s report are confidential to the parties. However, the subsequent Determination Order in the case will be published on the RTB’s website and will list the names of the case parties and the rental property address.
Outcome of Dispute hearing
At the hearing, all parties will be given the opportunity to set out their side of the case using documentary evidence already circulated, if necessary. If an agreement is not reached at the RTB dispute hearing, the adjudicator will make a determination in relation to the case, which will be sent to all parties, as part of the adjudicator’s report after the hearing. If the adjudicator’s report is not appealed to a RTB Tribunal, the Board of the RTB will make a Determination Order, which is legally binding and can be enforced in the courts by the RTB, if necessary, if it is not complied with by relevant party. This can result in a criminal and/or civil conviction.
Appeal of Dispute hearing
The Third Party applicant or the landlord may appeal an adjudicator’s report within 21 days of the adjudicator’s report issuing to the parties. An appeal will be considered by a three person RTB Tribunal hearing and its proceeding are open to the public. Tribunal reports are published on the RTB’s website. The Tribunal’s report will form the basis of a Determination Order, which will subsequently be made by the Board of the RTB.