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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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Private Residential Tenancies Board Launch €300k Advertising Campaign on Rental Rights

Jun 25, 2015


How do we get our deposit back? Are we entitled to a longer lease? If I’m letting a flat, what if the rent’s not paid?


Private Residential Tenancies Board Launch €300k Advertising Campaign on Rental Rights

 

Tuesday 16th June 2015: The Private Residential Tenancies Board, PRTB, have today announced the launch of a €300,000 advertising campaign informing tenants and landlords of their rental rights. The campaign which will run across print, broadcast, online and outdoor media has been developed on the back of recent research* which found that one third of tenants (36%) were not fully aware of their rights as a renter and many landlords are small scale operators with 65% owning just one property and 84% having two or less.  

 

Paudie Coffey, T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for Housing, Planning and Co-ordination of Construction 2020 welcomed the launch of the campaign, noting that “the private rented sector is an important element of the housing market, with the proportion of households in the sector almost doubling in the period 2006-2011. This campaign will be vital in raising awareness of the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants in the sector.”

 

The Minister highlighted rising rents as an area of concern and noted that “there is currently rent regulation in place, whereby a landlord can increase rent once a year and only within the market rate.  The Government currently has the Residential Tenancies Bill before the Seanad, where improvements will be made to further secure tenants’ rights and it is expected that progress will be made on this piece of legislation in the coming weeks.”

 

The Minister praised the work of the PRTB in developing the campaign noting that “building awareness of the PRTB’s role in providing a timely and cost effective dispute resolution service is of benefit to both landlords and tenants. The promotion of a co-operative relationship between stakeholders is vital to the success of the sector.”

“Conscious of the growth and pressures on the private rental sector and the lack of awareness around rights that exists we developed this advertising campaign to focus directly on raising awareness of the rental rights of both tenants and landlord”, commented Anne Marie Caulfield, PRTB Director. “For example, many tenants do not realise that they may be entitled to continue to rent the property they are currently living in for up to four years, even if they signed a shorter lease; or they don’t always know what the correct notice periods are for the termination of their tenancy. In a market with rising rents, it is also important that both landlords and tenants know it is not permissible to charge more than the market rent, and rents can only be increased once in a 12 month period.”

 

There are currently 303,574 tenancies registered with the PRTB, with one in five, or 20% of households, now living in the private rented sector. With a very diverse client base in terms of age, background and nationality of both renters and landlords, this new campaign seeks to ask a wide range of questions around rental rights, with the answers being found at www.prtb.ie. The online ads will also be translated into Polish, Lithuanian, Cantonese, Somali, Portuguese and French.
-    My landlord wants to raise the rent twice this year. Can he do that?
-    How do we get our deposit back?
-    If I disagree with my tenants, who can mediate between us?
-    If I’m renting for 6 months, how much longer can I stay?
-    If I’m letting a flat, what if the rent’s not paid?
-    Can we find out our rental rights without paying legal fees?
-    Are we entitled to a longer lease?

The PRTB website, www.prtb.ie, has extensive information for both tenants and landlords explaining what their rights and obligations are.  “I would encourage anyone who is currently renting, or considering renting, to log on to our website and familiarise themselves with their rights and their responsibilities.  They can also download a copy of the “Good Tenant, Good Landlord” leaflet which contains all the information in one handy place and has been translated into Chinese, Slovakian, French, Lithuanian, Irish, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Latvian”, Ms. Caulfield added.

 

The first phase of the advertising campaign commences this week, with the second phase running in August to coincide with the CAO results, aiming to assist young students leaving home for the first time. The campaign has been developed by Javelin, who were appointed after a public tender competition.

Ends

 

 About the PRTB and the Private Rented Residential 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, nearly 1 in 5 households in the country are renting their accommodation in the private sector.   
* The PRTB commissioned RED C to carry out a nationwide survey of Landlords, Tenants and Estate Agents. The survey results were published in October 2014.                      

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