Tuesday, January 15, 2013

State taking landlords to court over registration - The Irish Times - Wed, Jan 09, 2013

The State body that regulates private rented accommodation is to take 22 landlords to court in the coming months over their failure to register with authorities.

Earlier this week the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) secured criminal convictions against two landlords who did not register tenancies despite repeated warnings. They were fined a total of more than €24,000.

Landlords are legally obliged to register all tenancies with the board. Since January 2011, the fee per tenancy has risen from €70 per accommodation unit to €90.

The board confirmed yesterday it is taking a further 22 landlords to court for failing to register tenancies with them.

Landlord made pay €18,000 

Of the cases heard earlier this week at Dublin District Court, a landlord from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, was prosecuted for failing to register a total of three tenancies. He was fined €3,000 for each accommodation unit, while legal costs were also awarded against him, resulting in a total penalty of just over €18,000.

In another case, a Wexford landlord was convicted for failing to register a tenancy for a flat in Waterford. He was also fined €3,000 and legal costs were awarded against him, resulting in a penalty of just over €6,000.

Both landlords were receiving rent supplement payments from their tenants, a State-funded subsidy for tenants on welfare or low incomes who cannot afford to pay their full rental costs.

Last year the board issued more than 43,000 letters notifying landlords of their registration requirements.

Data shared 

In recent years the Department of Social Protection has been sharing information with the PRTB on landlords in receipt of rent supplement, to help identify those who have failed to register with authorities. Two cases that came before the courts this week followed this data-sharing arrangement.

PRTB director Anne Marie Caulfield said: “Our access to the department’s rent supplement database has proved hugely beneficial.

“New software has enabled us to systematically track unregistered landlords whose tenants are in receipt of rent supplement payments.”

In the cases of the landlords prosecuted this week, she said the board had given the individuals several opportunities to comply with the legislation and register. “When they still failed to do so we moved to prosecute them,” she added.

Latest figures show that about 96,400 landlords received rent supplement payments during 2011. The average payment in respect of individual landlords was €5,220 per annum.

The size of payments for a small number of landlords suggests some accommodation owners received rent supplement in respect of between 50 and 120 properties.

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