The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has secured criminal convictions against two Landlords who failed to register their tenancies, despite receiving a number of Statutory Notices and warning letters instructing them to do so.
In the first case proceedings were taken against Eileen Maguire of Ballydevitt, Donegal Town, Donegal for failing to register a tenancy at Ballydevitt, Donegal. The case was heard by Judge John O’Neill on 4 April 2016.
Counsel for the RTB informed the Court that the RTB sent two notices pursuant to Section 144 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to Ms Maguire calling on her to comply with the legislation. As Ms Maguire failed to register the tenancy, Eversheds, the RTB’s Solicitors, sent two further warning letters prior to the institution of proceedings, thereby affording Ms Maguire further opportunities to register the tenancy, which was not availed of.
Judge John O’Neill convicted Ms Maguire of an offence under Section 144(3) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and imposed a fine of €1,000.00. Judge O’Neill further made an Order for costs against Ms Maguire in favour of the RTB in the amount of €2,500 plus VAT. The tenancy was registered at the time of the court hearing.
In the second case Andrew Oliver Fleming of 103 Tymon Crescent, Old Bawn, Tallaght, Dublin 24 was convicted for failing to register a tenancy at 103 Tymon Crescent, Old Bawn, Tallaght, Dublin 24. Judge O’Neill imposed a fine of €1,000 and made an Order for costs in favour of the RTB in the amount of €2,500 plus VAT. The tenancy was registered at the time of the court hearing.
Judge O’ Neill remarked that in prosecuting cases the RTB are very “fair” and give Landlords “plenty of time to put their house in order”.
The RTB continues to pursue Landlords for failing to register their tenancies, as required by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. The RTB has confirmed that further cases will be brought before the Courts throughout 2016 and beyond against landlords for failing to register tenancies in breach of the Act. 22,854 letters were issued by the RTB in 2015 notifying Landlords of their specific registration requirement. Since 1 January 2011, the fee is €90.00 per tenancy if registered within one month of the tenancy commencing and, a late fee of €180.00 applies if the tenancy is registered outside of that time period. The registration fees also fund Local Authority inspections of rental accommodation to enforce minimum standards.
In accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 the RTB is provided with information by local authorities and the Department of Social Protection as regards tenancies which are known to exist. Referrals are also received from other sources including Members of the Public, Elected Representatives and Members of an Garda Siochana.
The rental housing sector provides homes to one in five households in Ireland. This includes over 100,000 households who are supported by State supported schemes such as Rent Supplement, Housing Assistance Programme or the Rental Accommodation Scheme. It is important that the sector is well regulated and registration is the first step in that process.
The Residential Tenancies Act has been in place for over ten years now. It is not acceptable that a minority of Landlords attempt to operate outside the law, despite several official communications setting out clearly what their obligations are and what the consequences for not registering may be.
The RTB has engaged in joined up Government with other Public Sector bodies such as the Department of Social Protection and Local Authorities and uses sophisticated software to identify unregistered Landlords. In the past three years alone we have corresponded with over 85,000 Landlords (33,793 in 2013,29,256 in 2014 and 22,854 in 2015) notifying them of their requirement to register. As with the landlords most recently convicted we afford several opportunities to comply with the legislation and register. Where those opportunities are not availed of our policy is to pursue prosecutions. Since 2013 we have taken proceedings resulting in 49 criminal convictions.” said RTB Assistant Director Kathryn Ward.”
A landlord, if convicted under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 for failing to comply with a notice, faces a fine of up to €4,000 and/or six months imprisonment, along with a daily fine of €250 for a continuing offence, i.e. where the tenancy continues to remain unregistered after the court hearing.
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), formerly the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), was established in 2004. It currently has 324,000 tenancies registered representing, 172,000 landlords and 705,000 occupants. Its remit is to regulate and support the rental housing market. The remit has just recently been extended to include Approved Housing Bodies (hence the name change, which are not-for-profit housing providers or housing associations and provide housing for about 30,000 tenants.
The RTB maintain a published register of all registered tenancies and this register is a very important part of regulation of the sector. The register is provided to Revenue for the purpose of facilitating tax compliance in rental income and the Department of Social Protection for fraud detection.
The published register of all registered tenancies is available on the registration homepage of the RTB website www.rtb.ie and any tenancy suspected of being unregistered can be reported by any member of the public to the PRTB which will take steps to investigate the matter.