Landlords convicted but avoid jail over failure to register leases

Landlords convicted but avoid jail over failure to register leases

Article from Irish Times Monday March 7 2016

Two owners of private rented accommodation have received criminal convictions, fines and have been ordered to pay court costs for failing to register leases.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act all owners of private rented property are obliged to register the rented properties with the Private Residential Tenancies Board, which mediates between tenants and landlords in the event of disputes.

Landlords face fines of up to €4,000 and/or six months imprisonment over failure to register leases, along with a daily fine of €250 for a continuing offence after a court conviction. Registration costs €90.

In the first of two recent prosecutions of landlords, John Scally, of Radharc an Mhuilinn, Rathwire, Killucan, Co Westmeath, was fined €1,000 and ordered to pay €2,500 costs by Judge John O’Neill. The court was told Scally failed to register a tenancy at 112 Ashfield, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Counsel for the board told the court two notices of compliance had been sent to the defendant. Two further notices were sent before the case went to court.

The tenancy was registered at the time of the court hearing and Scally had a solicitor present who apologised to the court on his client’s behalf.

In the second case, Altaf Memon of 2 Carrigmore, Caherslee, Tralee, Co Kerry, was convicted for failure to register a tenancy at a property at 308 Virginia Heights, Blessington Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24.

Memon appeared before the court and registered the tenancy before the court hearing.

Taking these factors into account, Judge O’Neill imposed a €1,500 fine and made an order for costs of €2,500 against the defendant.

According to the board almost 23,000 letters were issued in 2015 notifying landlords of the registration requirement. Failure to register a tenancy within one month results in the fee rising to €180.

Information on private rented accommodation is provided to the board by local authorities and the Department of Social Protection.

The board’s assistant director, Kathryn Ward, said the private rented sector provides homes to one in five households. “This includes over 100,000 households who are supported by State-supported schemes such as rent supplement, housing assistance programme or the rental accommodation scheme. It is important that the sector is well regulated and registration is the first step in that process”.

The Private Residential Tenancies Board is a self-financing agency whose functions include maintaining a register of all private rented accommodation and the provision of a dispute resolution service. The registration fees also fund local authority inspections of rental accommodation to enforce minimum standards.