RTB publishes sanctions on landlords who have engaged in improper conductPadraig Conlon 14 Apr 2022
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has published particulars of a further nine civil sanctions which have been imposed on landlords as a result of the RTB’s Investigations and Sanctions process.
This is the second time that the RTB has published sanctions since being granted regulatory powers to investigate and sanction landlords who have breached certain aspects of rental legislation in 2019.
These particular breaches of rental law are called ‘improper conducts’.
Thirty-eight sanctions have been published in total to date.
A dedicated webpage where all sanctions are published is available here.
If rental law has not been complied with, landlords may be subject to regulatory action by the RTB, including, potential investigation and potential sanction.
The RTB may commence an investigation, either as a result of information received from members of the public, or as a result of information gathered from records that the RTB has access to under the Residential Tenancies Act.
This includes the RTB’s register of tenancies, information received under data sharing agreements with other public bodies, as well as open-source data such as rental websites.
As of yesterday, the RTB has a pipeline of over 440 investigations which have commenced and are at varying stages of the investigations process.
The RTB currently prioritises allegations of breaches of RPZ restrictions, which is reflected in the nine sanctions published today.
To date, over 90% of the published sanctions have been for breach of RPZ regulations.
If a landlord has committed an improper conduct, they can be sanctioned by an independent Decision Maker with a written caution and/or a monetary sanction up to €15,000 and/or costs up to €15,000.
All decisions to sanction must be confirmed in the Circuit Court.
Once the sanctions are confirmed by the Circuit Court and all administrative and legal procedures have been completed, the RTB is legally obliged to publish the details of the sanctions.
The landlords in these nine particular investigations all opted to acknowledge the alleged improper conduct at the beginning of the investigation.
By taking this approach, the landlords simplified the process and demonstrated that they were co-operating with the investigation.
This was taken into consideration by the RTB’s Decision Maker, together with any steps taken by the landlord to rectify the breach of rental law, when they were deciding on the type of sanction and the amount of any monetary penalty.
The nine sanctions published today range from a written caution up to a fine of €2,684.
As a direct result of the investigations conducted by the RTB to date:
- Over €300,000 in overcharged rent has been returned to tenants by landlords.
- The rents in these cases have also been reset to amounts in compliance with the legislation preventing these, and any future tenants, from being overcharged.
- Almost €38,000 has been paid by landlords in sanctions to date. All sanction amounts are paid to the Exchequer.
The RTB has a legal obligation to publish sanctions that have been confirmed by the Circuit Court once all legal and administrative procedures have been completed. The RTB will continue to do so on an ongoing basis.
Commenting on the published sanctions, Niall Byrne, Director of the RTB, notes:
“The RTB’s expanded regulatory powers allow us to investigate when it appears that a landlord has committed one of the defined breaches of tenancy law, known as improper conducts.
“While the vast majority of landlords work to ensure good relations with their tenants and to comply with rental law, those who fail to observe the law and who breach the legal rights of tenants will be held accountable by the RTB.
“Rent Pressure Zones are in place as a protective measure for tenants during the current housing crisis and is important that the RTB is actively working to ensure there is compliance with this important public interest measure.
“Because of the potential financial impact on individual tenants, the RTB is currently prioritising investigations into breaches of Rent Pressure Zone requirements.
“To date, over 90% of the sanctions published relate to this serious breach of tenants’ legal protections.
“We received a high level of co-operation from the landlords in these particular investigations and this was reflected in the sanctions imposed.
“In the interests of assuring the public that RTB is actively regulating the residential rental sector and is taking action where required, we will continue to publish details of sanctions on our website on an ongoing basis.
“I would like to remind landlords of their obligations to ensure they have all their tenancy details up to date with the RTB, that tenancies are registered annually, and that landlords follow all of the statutory rules when setting and reviewing rents.
“If landlords find themselves in a situation where they are not complaint with rental law, I would urge landlords to take action early to remedy the situation so they do not become the subject of an investigation, which could result in sanctions and costs of up to €30,000.”
Landlords encouraged to check they are complying with rental law
The RTB says it strongly encourages landlords to ensure they are complying with rental law and keeping the details of their tenancies up to date with the RTB. Please visit www.rtb.ie regularly for all the latest information on the latest on the rental legislation.
All landlords should carry out the following checks to ensure they are compliant:
- Check that all your tenancies are registered. If any tenancies are not registered, register them immediately.
- Annual tenancy registration came into effect on 4 April 2022. This means that landlords must register their tenancy every year, within one month of the anniversary of when that tenancy began. Please click here for more details.
- RTB online accounts have changed. Please click here where you will find full details to assist you with the process of creating your RTB account and linking your tenancies.
- Check the details on all your tenancies and correct them if necessary.
- Ensure that any rent changes and any other changes to the tenancy details are notified to the RTB within a month of a new rent taking effect using your RTB online account here.
- Check if your rental property is in a designated RPZ and check that any rent increases that you have carried out are within the legal guidelines using the correct RPZ Calculators:
o For rents reviewed before 16 July 2021 please use the RPZ Calculator here.
o For rents reviewed on or after 16 July 2021 please use the RPZ Calculator here. Please note that the 2% cap to rent increased in RPZs applies in rents set after 11 December 2021.
- If you have raised the rent above the amount allowed on the RPZ Calculators, and you are relying on a RPZ exemption to do so check if the criteria for RPZ exemption applies to you and submit a RPZ Exemption Form to the RTB, if necessary. Please click here for more information.
- If you have raised the rent above the amount allowed on the RPZ Calculators, and you don’t meet the criteria for a RPZ Exemption, arrange to reset the rent to the correct amount, refund any overpaid rent to the tenants and update your tenancy registration with the new rent.
Reporting potential breaches to the RTB
If any tenant or member of the public is aware of a potential breach by a landlord of rental law, you should bring it to the attention of the RTB.
For more information on how to report a potential breach please click here.