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PRTB makes recommendations to college students renting for the first time

Aug 17, 2015


•    Ensure accommodation meets minimum legal standards
•    Avoid paying excessive rents by checking PRTB Rent Index
•    Check if your tenancy is registered with the PRTB
•    Know your rights and your responsibilities!


Tuesday 18th August 2015:  As offers of Third Level College places arrive in homes around the country, the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) is advising students, particularly those who will be looking to rent student accommodation for the first time to check their rights and responsibilities when it comes to renting and avoid paying excessive rents by informing themselves of actual rents across the country.

PRTB Director, Ms. Anne Marie Caulfield said “going to college is an important and exciting experience, but some students who are renting, particularly those leaving home for the first time, may need some support and guidance as they leave home and rent for the first time. PRTB has found that many first time students are unsure of their rights, or who to contact if they find themselves in difficulty.”  “One of the biggest challenges this year is the cost of renting and scarcity of accommodation.  The danger is that students, in a desire to find accommodation, sign up to longer leases than they need or informing themselves of market rent in the area or of their rights.

The PRTB Rent Index, which is available on www.prtb.ie, provides students with important benchmark information and is an authoritative guide as to the actual rents being charged by landlords adjacent to all Universities, ITs and other Third Level colleges.  Compiled by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), and based on the PRTB’s own register of over 300,000 tenancies across the State, the Rent Index (available to view here) reveals the actual rents being paid for rented properties, as distinct from the asking rent which features in other rent reports published by other parties.  The index covers 446 locations across the country and 5 different property types.  This can help students and their parents to make informed decisions about the accommodation options open to them, both adjacent to college and along transport routes, and to negotiate the best possible deal on rent.

The PRTB Rent Index reveals the different rent levels across the country for different accommodation.  By logging on to www.prtb.ie, prospective renters can establish the monthly rent being paid in Q1 2015.  For example, rent for a two-bed apartment in Rathmines was €1,288.78, while a two bed apartment in Clonskeagh, near UCD, was renting for €1334.58.  Outside Dublin, rent levels were not as high; a three-bed semi in Maynooth is typically costing €1024.74 per month to rent, while a three-bed house in Athlone is costing €609.78.  A two-bed apartment in Tralee will cost €538.36, while the rent for a similar apartment in Galway city averages €809.25.  In Limerick City a two-bed apartment is renting for €588.91 per month while in Cork City it is €867.20.  

Ms. Caulfield also advised students to think carefully and consider all that is involved in renting a property and, perhaps, moving in with new flatmates, “Remember that you may find yourself jointly and severely liable for your flatmates rent arrears or bills.  We have also published information on protecting deposits and how to ensure it is refunded at the end of the academic year, as well as a list of what students are legally entitled to in terms of the standard of rented accommodation, and their responsibilities as tenants.

We would remind students to make sure they get the landlord’s name, address and phone number in case of emergencies – you’re entitled to that.  And don’t sign up to a 12 month lease if you will only be staying for a nine month academic year” she added.  The PRTB would encourage students to search the PRTB website to see if their potential landlord has had previous dispute cases. (Available http://prtb.ie/dispute-resolution/prtb-dispute-outcomes).  

The PRTB has again teamed up this year with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to sponsor a booklet of advice on renting which will be launched later this week and distributed to all new students in freshers week packs as well as being available on the USI website. Speaking about the guide, Kevin Donoghue USI President said, “This guide will provide students with vital but simple information for the first few weeks in college. It can help you establish a budget early on in the year and keep your finances in check in addition to our accommodation advice."

USI, each college’s students’ union accommodation and welfare officers, Threshold and the PRTB Call Centre all offer free information to students and their parents.  The PRTB are also currently running a national advertising campaign to inform landlords and tenants of their rights and responsibilities, to coincide with students returning to college.

The PRTB have valuable tips and checklists for tenants to assist in choosing suitable accommodation and ensuring that students can concentrate on this new chapter of student life.





About the PRTB and the Rented Residential Property Market
The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) was established in 2004 to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.  It also provides policy advice to the Government on the private rented sector, and its dispute resolution service replaces the courts in relation to the majority of landlord and tenant disputes.

According to the 2011 Census, of the nearly 1.65 million households in the country, 475,000 (29%) are renting their accommodation, and about 65% of that number are in the private sector.  There are now 300,750 private tenancies registered with the PRTB.
 



Check List for Students Renting for the First Time


Is the rental property close to college or on a convenient transport route?
Is the property secure and in a safe location?

What is included in the rent – and what is excluded?
Who pays for the heating, electricity, bin charges, internet connection, cable TV? You must consider any extras in your budget.

Does the accommodation meet with the minimum legal requirements? For example, in the kitchen, is there a four ring hob with grill and oven, a fridge and freezer, microwave and washing machine. Do they all work?

Sanitary facilities; is there a self-contained toilet with hot and cold water and a fixed bath or shower?

Is the heating adequate? Do you have control over when the heat is on or off?  Is there any sign of dampness in the property? Are there smoke alarms? Are there fire extinguishers?

Know who you’re living with because if they don’t pay their rent, leave unpaid bills or damage the property, you could all be held jointly responsible.

Don’t sign a 12 month lease if you’re only staying for the 9 month academic year... you could end up paying the extra three months, or losing your Deposit.

Is the tenancy registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board?  Experience shows that good landlords will always abide by the law.

What is your agent or landlord’s name, address and phone number
? It’s very important to have this information if things go wrong – and you are entitled to receive it.

Take an inventory of the contents and furniture on arrival, note any damage, things that don’t work & breakages.  Photos are also useful. Get your landlord to sign the inventory along with you.
Get a receipt! Make sure you have a record (i) of your Deposit and (ii) of every Rent Payment. Renting is a business arrangement – treat it like one.

Don’t engage in anti-social behaviour... parties can get out of hand and it could end up costing you a lot of money.

If you’ve paid your rent, given required notice, haven’t breached a fixed term lease, haven’t damaged the property, and paid the bills then you’re entitled to your deposit back... just remember to go through your inventory again before you leave, preferably with your landlord, and take more photos. They may be necessary as evidence in a dispute.  

Renting Problems?  Who can help?
•    Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Accommodation Officers
•    The Money and Budgeting Advice Service (MABS) provides money advice
•    The Citizens Advice Bureau can help
•    The Private Residential Tenancies Board - You can take a case to the PRTB for €25 or €15 on line
Need more information on your Rights and Responsibilities? Go to www.prtb.ie   or ring us on 0818 30 30 37


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Two Landlords Receive Criminal Convictions and €11,000 in fines and costs for Failing to Register their Tenancies with the Private Residential Tenancies Board

Jul 02, 2015
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.



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