Pre 2004 Act & Reform
Prior to 2004, a dispute between landlord and tenant was heard by the small claims court, the District Court or the Circuit Court. After 2004 Act, all claims must brought before the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). The Board may appoint an adjudicator or mediator to resolve the dispute amicably. The Board may make legally binding orders but it is still necessary to go to court to enforce the order. The result is that many simple claims for possession for non-payment of rent or breach of a tenant’s covenant must go through a potentially long and multi stage process in order to force the matter to conclusion.
The 2004 Act sets out the rights of the landlord and tenant. The terms of a letting cannot be changed by any attempt to specify otherwise. Any term and condition in a letting agreement inconsistent with the Act is void, unless it improves the tenant’s protections. No matter what is in the letting agreement, the minimum tenant protections will apply.
The 2004 Act significantly altered the balance of rights and obligations between landlord and tenant, in favour of the tenant. In this, it largely followed the modern international position. It placed significant legal and administrative obligations on landlords, in a way that was not widely recognised in the market.
Scope of Act
This Act does not apply to
- rent controlled premises (pre-1966 Rent Controlled)
- long occupation lease tenancies (see section on business rights) (later modified)
- to holiday or
- business lettings.
- social housing lettings by housing authorities and approved housing bodies (but see below)
- owner-occupied letting where the landlord resides
- where the landlord’s spouse, child or parent is a resident and no lease or written tenancy agreement has been entered into.
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 made a number of significant changes to residential tenancy protection. It increased the rental review, admissible rent review period to two years. It increased the notification period from 28 days to 90. It increased the termination notice period for tenancies more than four years in duration.
The legislation introduced a Deposit Protection Scheme. The Private Residential Tenancy Board was renamed and its jurisdiction expanded to cover approved housing bodies
The Tenancy Tribunal was amalgamated with the Rent Tribunal under the older protected tenancies legislation.
The register of tenancies was re-designated as the Residential Tenancies Register.
It is amalgamated with the older Rent Tribunal under the older protected tenancies legislation. The name of the register is re-designated, the Residential Tenancies Register.
Social and Affordable Housing
Where a public authority provides a dwelling, of which it is owner, to an approved housing body under a contract or lease of that the dwelling which is the subject of a tenancy between the housing body and household which has qualified for social housing, then the Act applies to the body. The approved housing body is deemed landlord.
The tenant is, in the case of a single occupier, that person. Where the household is of two or more persons, whichever person has been granted occupation of the dwelling pursuant to the tenancy agreement, is deemed tenant. The provisions of the Act regarding multiple tenants, take effect accordingly.
The provisions of the Act are modified in respect of social and affordable housing to which the Act applies. The tenant may not assign or sub-let the tenancy. Any purported sub-tenancy is void. Any purported assignment is void. The ground of termination of the tenancy based on the landlord’s requirement of the dwelling-house is disapplied.
Residential Tenancies Board Functions
The Board is established as a body corporate under the Residential Tenancies Act. It has functions to advise the Minister in relation to private rented sector policy, developing guidelines for good practice, collating and collecting relevant information on rent levels, conducting research and monitoring aspects of the private rented dwelling sector, reviewing the Act.
The Board was set up to support and develop a well-functioning rental housing sector. Its remit covers both the private rental sector and not-for-profit housing providers also referred to as Approved Housing Bodies. Its is to
- regulate the rental sector;
- provide information to tenants and landlords;
- maintain a national register of tenancies;
- resolve disputes between tenants and landlords;
- conduct research and provide information to inform policy.
The Board provides information to tenants and landlords as well as to the general public to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. It also provides accurate and authoritative research and data on the rental sector, such as the RTB Quarterly Rent Index, which allows us to monitor trends in the rental sector and also allows individuals to compare rents in particular locations.
All private residential landlords and Approved Housing Bodies are obliged to register their tenancies. A public register is available on our website. The registration of tenancies enables the Board to collect important data on the sector, and is also a key part of regulating and supporting the sector and ensuring landlords and tenants are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
The Board may developing guidelines and publish a precedent model to lease which will contain provisions that is calculated to ensure harmonious relations between the parties to the lease as regards conduct to one another and their capacity as such parties.
The Residential Tenancies Board resolves disputes in the private rented dwellings sector. This includes disputes relating to the level of rent, non-payment of rent and termination of a tenancy on the basis of breach. It also hears disputes as to the existence of tenancies and the rights and obligation of the landlord and tenant.
There are two steps in the process. The first is a mediation or adjudication, which is confidential. If this does not resolve the matter in dispute, it proceeds to a second stage which is a public hearing by the Tenancy Tribunal.
A dispute regarding termination must be referred within 28 days. Fees are payable to the Board in relation to the reference. Actions (such as a rent review) cannot take effect until the dispute (e.g. regarding the rent) has been determined by the Board or the parties agree.
The Board and the Tribunal acts in a less formal manner than a court. The Board is entitled to communicate with the parties to ensure the parties fully understand the issues so that the dispute is not due to a misunderstanding of the legal position.