Landlord must pay tenant €11,654 over excess rent for apartment in Dublin rent pressure zone

Man was living in tent for four years before he got apartment but Residential Tenancies Board says €1,400 monthly rent should have been €840

The man was living in a tent for four years before he rented the apartment, but Residential Tenancies Board said €1,400 monthly rent should have been €840. Photograph: iStock

A man who lived in a tent for four years before getting an apartment in a north Dublin rent pressure zone is entitled to recover €11,654 overpaid rent from his landlord, a Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) tribunal has decided.

The rent of €1400 monthly, set in July 2020, was greater than the correct rent of €840 monthly permitted in this rent pressure zone (RPZ) in Dublin 11, it found.

In his evidence, the tenant said, before he found the property on daft.ie, he lived in a tent for four years. He was offered the apartment but, after he inquired about applying for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), was told it was now being offered to a relative of the landlord, he said.

Having said he would raise a discrimination issue, he was again offered the property and moved in in late July 2020 at an agreed rent of €1,400. The lease agreement did not include the necessary RPZ details and his requests for that information were ignored by the landlord’s agents, he said.

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He paid €410 directly to the landlord until September 2021, his own contribution to HAP was €102.60 and a €990 monthly HAP payment went to the landlord. He was not alleging his €1,400 rent was in excess of the market rent but rather in breach of the RPZ.

The RTB decided the last legally set rent in respect of the dwelling was €700 in early July 2015 and the man’s rent should have been set in accordance with that.

As rent can only be increased by a small percentage annually under RPZ legislation, the correct rent, it held, should have been €840 per month.

It found total rental payments of €44,773 were made when the total from late July 2020 to November 2023 was €33,119, making an overpayment of €11,654.

Noting the €11,654 represented a proportion of money paid by HAP, it said, once that sum is paid to the tenant, the appropriate proportion should be furnished to HAP. The landlord must also pay €250 for damages for breach of the landlords’ obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 in respect of the tenancy.

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In another decision, the RTB upheld the validity of a notice of termination served on a couple in late 2021 over their tenancy, at a rent of €650 monthly, of an apartment in Limerick and directed they must vacate it within 56 days. The couple had lived in the apartment since 2015 and the landlord intended to sell it, the tribunal noted.

The tenants did not question the landlord’s agent during the tribunal hearing but gave evidence of their unsuccessful efforts to get alternative accommodation. The dwelling is unsuitable for a family with children and they would move “if they could”, the tribunal was told.

In a separate case, the RTB upheld the validity of a notice of termination of tenancy served in March 2023 on a woman living with her son in a bedsit in Rathmines, Dublin, at a monthly rent of €1,295, since early 2020.

The bedsit is in one of two adjoining properties bought by the landlord in March 2022, when 17 of a total 19 residential units in both properties were occupied.

Just two units in one of the properties, including the bedsit, remain occupied. The landlord plans to sell both properties to Tusla for accommodation for children and adolescents.

In a different case, the RTB determined a tenant had been overholding in a rented house in Co Louth, which the corporate landlord wants to sell, since a valid notice of termination served on him expired in March 2022.

The man, a self-employed consultant living in, and working from, the house since early 2020, argued, “as everyone is aware, there is a housing crisis in Ireland”. He was “only too willing” to vacate the property as soon as he can but is “caught in a very difficult situation”, had sent “hundreds” of emails in response to letting advertisements, but, despite having excellent references, had received little or no response.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times