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 2 criminal convictions against Landlords who failed to register their tenancies, despite receiving a number of Statutory Notices and warning letters instructing him to do so.
On 1 October 2014 the PRTB issued proceedings against Dereck Doherty of 12 Grangemore Court, Donaghmede, Dublin 13 for failing to register a tenancy relating to a property at 28 Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3. The Defendant had continually challenged the authority of the PRTB to require him to register his tenancy. The case was heard by Judge John O’Neill on 12 January 2015.
An officer of the PRTB told counsel for the PRTB in evidence that the tenancy the subject of the proceedings was notified to the PRTB by the Department of Social Protection as a tenancy in respect of which rent supplement was being paid by the State. On review, it appeared that the tenancy had not been registered. 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. The Defendant acknowledged receipt of the correspondence sent by the PRTB but asserted that the PRTB had no authority to require him to register his tenancy. The tenancy remained unregistered at the time of the court hearing.
Judge John O’Neill convicted the Defendant in his absence of an offence contrary to Section 144(3) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and imposed a fine of €3,000. Judge O’Neill further made an Order for costs against the Defendant in the amount of €2,500 excluding VAT.
On 26 March 2015 the PRTB issued proceedings against Daniel O’Keeffe of Crossgun Lane Ltd, 125 Sundays Well Rd, Cork, Co Cork for failing to register a tenancy at 81 Riverside, North Quay Place, Popes Quay, Cork. The case was heard by Judge John O’Neill on 11 May 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. Counsel further informed the Court that it was not until after the Summons issued that the Defendant registered the tenancy.
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 €500.00. 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.
Judge O’ Neill remarked that these proceedings were issued as “a last resort”. 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. 29,256 letters were issued by the PRTB in 2014 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.
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.
“The Private Rented Sector in Ireland 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 Private 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 PRTB 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 100,000 Landlords (43,549 in 2012, 33,793 in 2013 and 29,256 in 2014) notifying them of their requirement to register. As with the landlord 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 commence prosecutions. We have taken proceedings resulting in 46 criminal convictions since 2013” said PRTB Director Anne Marie Caulfield.
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 registration fees also fund Local Authority inspections of rental accommodation to enforce minimum standards.
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.