The Irish Property Owners’ Association (IPOA) has welcomed a decision by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to refund late fees paid for tenancy registrations given the difficulties experienced by users in recent months following the introduction of a new multimillion euro software registration system.
The RTB will impose the late registration fee of €10 a month but will refund it immediately afterwards. Until this month there was a flat fee of €90 a month for late registration. That will also be refunded. The refunds will be in place until early next year. The RTB is legally obliged to impose a late fee under the Residential Tenancies Act.
In a statement the RTB said the decision was taken “given the genuine difficulties” experienced “among its user community”.
In June the RTB apologised to landlords and letting agents for any inconvenience caused during the introduction of the new software system which went live in November of last year. Numerous complaints had been received from rental property owners and their agents about ongoing challenges they were facing using the software.
Mary Conway, chairwoman of the IPOA, said she believed the RTB was doing its best to rectify a difficult situation. “We welcome it [the refund]. The RTB are trying very hard but it [the late penalty fee] is a Government ruling.
“I think it is the best possible compromise. It is going to create an awful lot of extra work for the RTB. It is not the most satisfactory in having to pay money and then getting it back. And to get refunds and all the rest.
“But I think it is very positive on the part of the RTB that they are acknowledging that they have difficulties with their new website,” Ms Conway said.
In April the RTB introduced a requirement for landlords to register details of their tenants every year, instead of on a once-in-three-years basis.
In a statement on Sunday, the RTB said that on an interim basis, and in recognition of the difficulties their customers were facing, they were committed to refunding all late fees paid for new tenancy registrations with a commencement date on or after April 4th, 2022, and to annual registrations of existing tenancies which became due on or after the same date this year.
The RTB said it was seeking to bed down this new process over the coming weeks and would provide their customers with an update once the detail was finalised via its regular website customer service announcements.
“As previously outlined and as stated on the RTB website, the RTB is acutely aware that some of our customers are having genuine difficulties using our new online tenancy registration system.
“We at the RTB very much regret this and sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to date. The new tenancy registration system is a critical component of how we administer our current legislative registration functions.
“The new system is designed to bring greater robustness to our verification of tenancy data provided by landlords and letting agents, and the integrity of the registration data.
“Despite extensive efforts to design and implement an appropriate registration system, we continue to experience some difficulties. We are working very hard to resolve these issues.”
The RTB said it should be noted that the majority of registrations had been completed online without difficulty where all information and details were correct as required.
The refund will not apply to any late fees which have accumulated prior to the introduction of annual registration on April 4th last. It also does not apply to providers of Student Specific Accommodation (SSA).
The cost to register tenancies is €40 a year for private rentals, cost rentals and Student Specific Accommodation (SSA) rentals. The yearly fee for tenancies managed by Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) is €20 a year, and the late registration fee is €10 a month. There is a fee waiver in place for those landlords who currently have a “Further Part 4″ tenancy in place.