Residential Tenancies Board given new powers to address improper conduct by landlords

02/07/2019 - 02:30

By Dan Buckley
The Residential Tenancies Board has been given new powers to address improper conduct by landlords under the Residential Tenancies Act.

The RTB can now directly investigate and sanction in cases where there are specific breaches of residential tenancy law in relation to Rent Pressure Zones, false or misleading notices of termination and the non-registration of a tenancy.

Anyone found in breach of the legislation could face sanctions that range from a warning to a fine of up to €15,000.

The new legislation also requires that all notices of termination where the tenancy has been ended are required to be notified and copied to the RTB within 28 days of the tenancy ending.

Director of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), Rosalind Carroll, has welcomed the new powers. The RTB is looking for compliance and will be operating on a case-by-case basis, Ms Carroll told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

If landlords respond to a warning and remedy their mistake they will receive just a caution: “The legislation sets out to be proportionate. It gives us the required tool kit.”

Ms Carroll said the RTB will have the power to enter a property and search it in a case where there is a dispute, “if people feel there has been a breach or if an exemption has been misapplied, we can investigate for them".

The RTB has 29 new staff this year, half of whom are already in place, she said. Ms Carroll urged tenants who think there has been a breach to contact the RTB.

We have a full range of powers under this where we can ask people to provide us with their bank statements, tenancy agreements. We can even go in and search a property if we need to. So quite extensive powers that, I think, will give us what we need to get into that regulatory area.

The chief executive of Threshold also welcomed the move, saying it gives reassurance to renters.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O’Rourke, John-Mark McCafferty added that new powers given to the RTB meant that the rent pressure zone area of legislation will now have more teeth.

However, spokesperson for the Irish Property Owners Association described the extension of rent property zones as "a mistake".

Margaret McCormack said that rent control in Ireland is a very blunt instrument that does not take a number of factors into account, including the level of indebtedness of the landlord or the cost of provision of accommodation.

She said the problem with homelessness is supply and that the private rented sector is not responsible for it:

Rent controls will not encourage investors in rural areas where rent is low and will reduce the number of available properties.

Jacinta Doolan of the Irish Self-Catering Federation, described as “an absolute minefield” the new regulations requiring that owners of self-catering properties and holiday homes get planning permission to continue operating in rent pressure zones.

“Many are only waking up to this and there are no guidelines,” she said. “It is brought in on the first of July, the peak season. The whole thing is a hames.”

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