Record demand for services of the RTB
- Over 260,000 people contacted the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) last year, up 47% since 2015.
- 2018 saw 336,890 registered tenancies with the RTB comprising of 695,000 occupants and 173,000 landlords.
- The number of applications received for dispute resolution increased by almost 10% in 2018 with a total of 6,398.
31 July 2019: The 2018 Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) Annual Report shows another year with record demand for its services. The number of people contacting the RTB for information and services increased by 6% in 2018 and is up 47% since 2015. Broken down, this increase reflects a total of 260,188 customer contacts, which includes 165,453 telephone calls, where 80% were answered within 20 seconds; 70,313 email queries; and 24,422 webchats.
Overall in 2018, there were 336,890 registered tenancies with RTB at the end of 2018, which comprised of 695,000 occupants and 173,197 landlords. This is a slight decrease from 2017, which saw a total of 339,447 registered tenancies, as the total number of private rented tenancies decreased by just under 2% from 313,000 tenancies to 307,000 tenancies.
The RTB received 6,398 applications for dispute resolution, an increase of nearly 10% since 2017. Despite this increase, the percentage of dispute applications received out of the total number of registered tenancies remained steady at just under 2% of overall tenancies. Furthermore, 45% of the applications received for dispute resolution were either withdrawn or settled before a hearing took place after education, awareness or engagement with the RTB, and 31% of dispute applications ended in agreement.
Reflecting on the RTB’s 2018 Annual Report, Director Rosalind Carrol said;
“2018 saw demand for our services grow yet again. Every year, for the last five years, demand for RTB Services has continued to grow, reflecting the continued pressures people are feeling in the rental market, and the changing regulatory framework. Over the last 12 months, we have continued to focus on informing and educating both landlords and tenants on their rights and responsibilities in a complex regulatory system.
We have introduced initiatives like the BetterLet RTB Landlord Accreditation, a voluntary scheme to support landlords so that they can manage their tenancy successfully and understand their rights and obligations.
Early engagement and information has also helped resolve many of the dispute cases referred to us, where nearly half of cases are withdrawn after engagement with the RTB.”
Dispute Resolution Services 2018
The most common three issues raised in dispute cases were;
- Rent arrears/overholding (26%)
- Validity of notices of termination (22%)
- Deposit retention (20%)
In 2018, 42% of all notices of termination submitted by landlords were deemed to be invalid and a total of €2.2m in rent arrears (not including damages) was awarded to landlords, averaging €4,039 per landlord. In over 80% of cases dealing with deposits, the deposit was fully or partially refunded to the tenant.
Cases disputing the amount of rent being charged made up 8% of overall cases taken to the RTB. 67% of all notices of rent reviews were found to be invalid, this is down from 77% in 2017.
The RTB Annual Report also includes case studies providing examples of some of the disputes taken to them in 2018. They are:
Case study 1: €10,968 in damages was awarded to a landlord following significant damage to their rental home. Upon inspection of the property, the landlord discovered a significant amount of damage, including the deliberate disconnection of and damage to pipes and plumbing that caused flooding in the bathroom and kitchen. After submitting an application for dispute resolution with the RTB, the landlord was able to provide considerable photographic and video evidence demonstrating the condition of the property at the start and during the tenancy, and then the state the property was left in due to the damage, along with invoices and quotations for works ongoing or due to commence demonstrating the effect the damage had caused. The evidence was accepted in full by the RTB and the damages were awarded to enable the landlord to restore the property to its original condition.
Case study 2: €3,900 awarded to a tenant in over paid rent because the tenant was threatened with sale of property if they did not pay an illegal rent increase. A tenant had been paying €1,200 in rent in 2016 and a year later, an agent acting on the landlord’s behalf informed the tenant that if they were to pay an increase in rent of €1,500 then the landlord would allow the tenancy to continue. However, if the tenant did not agree to this, the landlord would proceed to sell the property. The tenant felt they had no choice and proceeded to pay €1,500 for the next 13 months. After being made aware of their rights, the tenant turned to the RTB and it was found that no valid Notice of Rent Review had been served and the tenant was awarded the amount they had overpaid over the 13 months.
Case study 3: €20,000 was awarded to a tenant where a landlord was found to have penalised the tenant and abused the termination process. In this case, the landlord had sought to invalidly increase the rent and the tenant did not accept this. The landlord subsequently served notice of termination on the grounds that their brother would be moving in. The tenant moved out, but could not find suitable accommodation, resulting in them moving into a log cabin in a friend’s back garden, which was no longer suitable or big enough to allow their child to stay with them. Subsequently, the tenant saw the rental property advertised online, with a rent increase of €500 more than they were paying and took a case to the RTB. It was found that both the Notice of Rent Review and Notice of Termination were invalid, and that, as a result, both the tenant and their children suffered severe disruption to their lives.
Reflecting further on the Annual Report findings, Rosalind Carroll, the Director, said,
“It is important to acknowledge the new legislation introduced in June this year will continue to enhance the role of the RTB in the proactive monitoring and regulation of the market.
This along with our information, disputes and research services will allow the RTB to continue to provide support services to ensure that we can have an effective regulated sector, that is fair, accessible and beneficial for all.”
The RTB is currently running a national public awareness campaign on changes to rental law over the next six weeks across radio, outdoor, digital and social media. The objective of the campaign is to support both landlords and tenants in understanding the recent changes and to assist them in complying with the law.