Two Landlords Receive Criminal Convictions and €11,000 in fines and costs for Failing to Register their Tenancies with the Private Residential Tenancies Board
29,256 letters issued by Private Residential Tenancies Board notifying Landlords of their registration requirements in 2014
The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) has secured two further 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. This brings to 21 the number of convictions secured in the past 18 months.
In the first case proceedings were taken against Barry Jones of Warrenstown, Drumree, Co. Meath for failing to register a tenancy at 65 Manor Street, Flat 3, Dublin 7. The case was heard by Judge John O’Neill on 22 June 2015.
Counsel for the PRTB informed the Court that the PRTB sent two notices pursuant to Section 144 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (the “Act”) to the Defendant calling on him to comply with the legislation. As the Defendant failed to register the tenancy, Eversheds, the PRTB’s Solicitors, sent two further warning letters prior to the institution of proceedings, thereby affording the Defendant further opportunities to register the tenancy, of which he did not avail.
Judge John O’Neill convicted the Defendant of an offence under Section 144(3) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and imposed a fine of €3,000.00. Judge O’Neill further made an Order for costs against the Defendant in favour of the PRTB in the amount of €2,500 plus VAT. The tenancy remained unregistered at the time of the court hearing.
In the second case Mary Callaghan of 59 Hansfield, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, was convicted of a similar offence in respect of a tenancy relating to a property at 17 Linnetsfields Square, Castaheany, Dublin 15. Counsel informed the Court that this tenancy was referred to the PRTB by the Department of Social Protection as a tenancy in respect of which rent supplement had been paid by the State, and that on a review of the PRTB’s records it appeared not to be registered. The Defendant was sent two statutory notices and two solicitor’s letters advising her of her obligations and of the consequences of failing to register the tenancy. Subsequent to the institution of the criminal proceedings, there had been contact with the PRTB with regard to registering the tenancy and the court was informed that the PRTB had issued the Defendant a tenancy registration form to assist her. Notwithstanding this, the tenancy remained unregistered at the time of the court hearing. The Defendant did not attend court and was convicted in her absence. She was fined €3,000.00 and ordered to pay €2,500.00 plus VAT in legal costs.
Judge O’ Neill remarked that he found the PRTB to be “very reasonable” and questioned why the Defendants would not pay the “modest registration fee”. He has previously remarked that in these matters Landlords receive “ample notice” of their obligations, and can be under no illusion of the implications of failing to deal with these matters.
The PRTB continues to pursue Landlords for failing to register their tenancies, as required by Section 134 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. The PRTB has confirmed that further cases will be brought before the Courts throughout 2015 and beyond for failing to register tenancies in breach of the Act. The registration 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.
Pursuant to Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 the PRTB is provided with information by Local Authorities and the Department of Social Protection as regards tenancies which are known to exist. This is in addition to information provided by Elected Representatives and by Tenants or Neighbours who “whistleblow” on unregistered Landlords operating in their area.
“The Landlords in these cases were both contacted by the PRTB on a number of occasions and given a number of opportunities to register their tenancies. When they still failed to do so we were left with no option but to proceed with Criminal prosecutions” said PRTB Director Anne Marie Caulfield “The size of the Private Rented Sector has doubled between the census of 2007 and 2011 and it is now home to one in five households. It is very important that it is effectively regulated and registration is a key part of that. Registration fees pay both for the running of the PRTB and for the Local Authority minimum standard inspections, to ensure that the sector can be regulated without recourse to Exchequer funding.”
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.
Established under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004, the PRTB is a self-financing statutory agency whose functions include maintaining a register of all private rented accommodation and the provision of a dispute resolution service, so that a court hearing is not necessary in the majority of Landlord and Tenant Disputes leading to significant savings in legal and other costs associated with litigation for the parties to those disputes. The PRTB also produces a quarterly Rent Index and provides advice to the Minister on the Private Rented Sector.
The published register of all registered tenancies is available on the registration homepage of the PRTB website www.prtb.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.