Landlords fined for breach of rules protecting tenants
More than 20 landlords have been fined for carrying out illegal evictions or withholding deposits from tenants under a new State-funded mediation service established over the last 12 months.
The adjudications were made by the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), which replaces the courts in relation to the majority of disputes between landlords and tenants.
However, more than 30 of the 52 cases heard so far have involved tenants who were found to have failed to pay rent or who refused to vacate a rented property after being served with a valid notice to quit.
One of the largest sums of money involved the landlord of a property at the Old Mill Race, Newbridge, Co Kildare, who was forced to pay a tenant €14,000 for her wrongful eviction.
The money included €8,000 in damages for "discomfort, emotional distress, upset and trauma" the tenant sustained as a result of being unlawfully locked out of her home, according to the PRTB's determination.
The landlord was ordered to pay the remainder in expenses incurred by the tenant.
In another case relating to the landlord of a dwelling at Ailesbury Court, Donnybrook, Dublin, the tenant was awarded €6,500 after being illegally evicted. The sum included expenses incurred by the tenant.
Another landlord was forced to pay a tenant €5,000 after serving an invalid notice of termination on a tenant at premises on Palmerstown Avenue, Dublin.
However, most landlord cases concerned smaller amounts of money relating to issues such as withheld deposits and rent arrears.
Among tenants, one of the largest sums arose in connection with a dispute where a tenant at Clonshaugh Glen, Coolock, Dublin, refused to pay rent for a period of four months after receiving a notice of termination of tenancy.
The tenant was ordered to leave the premises after seven days and repay the outstanding rent - almost €4,000 - within 21 days.
Another tenant renting a flat on the North Circular Road, Dublin, was forced to pay his landlord more than €2,000 after failing to pay rent after a termination-of-tenancy notice.
Tenant or landlord may appeal a determination order to the High Court. It is understood the court will deal with the first appeal from a tenant in the new year.
Since the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004, landlords face penalties for failing to register on a national database compiled by the PRTB on time, while anyone who refuses to register faces penalties of up to €3,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to six months.
Registration costs €70 per tenancy, and landlords have to provide a variety of information, such as rent levels and PPSN numbers.
In total about 80,000 houses and flats, almost half of them in Dublin, are listed on the national register, which was published recently.
This means that landlords owning up to half of the estimated 150,000 rented dwellings in the State have failed to register with the PRTB, as required by law.
The PRTB has compiled the names of individual landlords and tenants and rent levels for each registered tenancy.