‘I’ve overpaid the Residential Tenancies Board, but it says it can’t refund me’

Property Clinic: ‘I’ve been caught out by a rule change that might be affecting lots of other small landlords, many of them pensioners like myself’

I am having an issue with the Residential Tenancies Board over the registration of a tenancy. From April 4th, 2022, landlords had to register tenancies with the RTB both at the start of the tenancy and annually thereafter, for as long as the tenancy continues, at a cost of €40 per year.

Previously, a tenancy had to be registered at its commencement and thereafter, once every six years.

About February 1st, 2021, I paid €90 to the RTB for registration of a new tenant. As I understood it, this payment was for a six-year period and therefore, I assumed – as this was a legal contract I had entered into with the RTB – that my registration with them would remain in force until January 2027.

If this is not the case, surely the RTB should reimburse me for the pro-rata period remaining, ie four years and nine months at €15 per year, adding up to €71.25?


When I stated my case to the RTB I got the following response: “I regret there is no provision within the Act to refund a registration fee already paid in respect of a tenancy. Therefore, it is not possible to refund or credit your previous payment.”

By my calculation, I am being asked to pay more money to the RTB due to a change in rules and the timing of my last payment. This, to me, is very unfair and inequitable.

I am sure that my query will apply to a large number of readers – many being pensioners like myself, where every euro counts, especially in these crazy days of rising inflation.

Your query is interesting from a number of viewpoints, and it highlights some of the challenges faced by residential property investors.

I welcome the new annual registration process because we need information in real time. We need to know how many landlords are actually in the market. Our politicians need to understand that there is a two-tiered rental market in existence in Ireland between private landlords and institutional investors. This duality also applies between rents that were captured before the rent pressure zone was introduced, and rents achieved in the same zone for properties after it was introduced that had not been previously rented, ie new properties, owner-occupied properties, and so on.

There is a fee waiver which is provided in section 7 of the 2021 Amendment Act so you may well be entitled to a credit as you fall within the six-year rule and registered after December 24th, 2016. When a new registration system of this scale is being introduced there will be tweaks necessary, and it is possible that the system may not pick up that you should have received a credit for the remaining five years.

If you go to the RTB website and click on the Registrations tab and then Annual Registrations you can read three examples of annual registration scenarios, which gives more detail in relation to how the system works. Example 3 — temporary fee waiver — is particularly relevant to your situation. The only reservation I have is that when you registered the property on February 1st, 2021, was it a Part 4 tenancy and not a fixed-term lease? To summarise, you may not be entitled to a refund but to a waiver equivalent up to €200 over the next five years.

In my experience this new process is somewhat chaotic. For example, a colleague of mine spends 90 per cent of her time working on RTB registrations. One has to understand that the RTB is tackling a very complicated process which is a part paper-based and part IT-based system. Merging and collating the details of 300,000 tenancies on to one system in a very short time was always going to be a challenge.

I personally am not inclined to blame the RTB for errors or delays that occur with this process. Rather, it is our legislators who have introduced an overly complex and bureaucratic system at a time when the RTB needed to concentrate its resources on this new registration process.

Legislation should not be introduced on a whim, but rather when the structures and resources are in place to implement it properly.

In my view, tenancy legislation has become a political football in this country. Every time there is a change in legislation there are consequences. Landlords are not flooding out of the market because of one change, but rather as a consequence of a series of legislative changes since 2015 that most private landlords believe are overly complex, challenging and designed to penalise them at every twist and turn.

Every time the legislation changes the only political voices we hear are for even more punitive measures to be introduced. People then wonder why there is a rental crisis.

Kersten Mehl is a chartered residential agency surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland