Landlord who evicted woman and her children before Christmas must pay more than €12,000

Woman illegally evicted after rented house damaged by ex-partner during domestic violence assault, tribunal heard

There was nothing in the Residential Tenancies Act to justify this 'summary unlawful eviction of a young family in the month of Christmas'

A landlord must pay more than €12,000 over illegally evicting a mother and two young children just days before Christmas 2022 after their home was damaged by her ex-partner who assaulted her during a domestic violence incident.

A Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) tribunal said there was nothing in the Residential Tenancies Act to justify this “summary unlawful eviction of a young family in the month of Christmas”.

The woman, who had a baby and a six-year-old daughter, was in a women’s refuge until February 2023, after which she secured one-room homeless accommodation, it noted.

The tribunal directed the landlord to pay her €12,761, including €10,000 for the consequences of unlawful termination of tenancy.


The woman appealed to the tribunal after an RTB adjudicator found the notice of termination of December 19th, 2022 was valid and directed her to pay €6,166 to the landlord over damage to the Dublin 12 property, which was being rented for €1,950 monthly.

In a recently published determination, the tribunal said, while the landlord had concerns about the property’s condition, these were the result of a crime perpetrated by a third party, later convicted, who was not under the woman’s control.

These facts were “readily apparent” to the landlord on December 17th, 2022, when the woman told him about a domestic violence incident in the early hours of that day.

He decided to prevent immediate access to the property, “ostensibly on safety concerns”, before moving to terminate the tenancy in a manner “completely beyond” the means provided in the Residential Tenancies Act, without any notice period.

The landlord had referred to an email from the RTB of December 20th, 2022 which said the woman “states she does not want to return and reside at the dwelling” but wanted an extra few days to “organise a Christmas for her children” and collect belongings.

The woman, the tribunal said, was “desperate” to get her belongings at that stage because she was denied the chance to enter the dwelling on foot of “surmountable” safety concerns. The RTB email did not sanction the landlord’s actions from December 17th in denying the tenant a right to her home, it held.

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A working mother and sole carer of her children, the woman told the tribunal her former partner, the father of the youngest child, had come to the house to help her sometimes but was not living there.

The first time she experienced domestic violence at his hands was on December 15th, 2022, when he smashed glass in the back door and assaulted her, she said. She called the Garda and he was arrested but later released on bail.

At around 5am on December 17th, he returned to the house and she had “no choice” but to open the door because he was smashing windows. When she did, he assaulted her.

He was later arrested and she was taken to hospital. She was later released and attended court that day in connection with the incident, over which he was denied bail.

The landlord told her later that day she was not permitted to return to the house and he wanted to contact his insurer about the damage. She asked for some time over Christmas but that was not permitted and she had eight hours to pack up her belongings and go to a refuge, she said.

In evidence, the landlord denied unlawful termination of the tenancy and said the woman told RTB staff she did not want to return to the house.

He said a neighbour, told him of another incident outside the house in early December 2022 and he viewed CCTV showing a woman being punched. He told the woman on December 17th it was unsafe for her, due to smashed windows, to go back in to the house.

The damage included the front door being kicked in, the backdoor badly damaged and blood on carpets and blinds, he said. There was no electricity or gas and he had to reconnect those services.

Asked if he could have boarded up the windows, he said the tenant did not request that.

When she told him on December 17th what had happened that morning, he told her it was not his business because he was only concerned with the property damage. She retained the house keys until December 27th, he added.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times