Friday, September 02, 2022

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The State’s regulator for the residential rental sector has said that all landlords are expected to comply with registering tenancies within a month, after a Government Minister admitted to failing to register a Dublin rental property correctly.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly did not renew his registration of a Dublin rental property with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) in 2019.

The Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow said that it was registered in 2011, and renewed in 2015, but that he missed the renewal date in 2019.

It comes after his party colleague Robert Troy resigned as junior minister last week for failing to declare properties on the Dáíl’s register of members’ interests correctly and also failing to register a rental property with the RTB.

Mr Troy made amendments to his declarations to the Dáil Register of Members’ Interests, and Mr Donnelly said on Thursday that he has now registered his property and paid a fine of “approximately €100”.

He said that this was the only mistake he has made in his property declarations “to the best of my knowledge”.

Legal requirements

In a statement to the PA news agency, a spokesperson for the RTB said that it works to ensure that both landlords and tenants are aware of and comply with legal requirements in the rental sector.

“A core function of the RTB is to maintain the register of tenancies. All tenancies that fall within the remit of the RTB must be registered within one month of the tenancy commencing.

“We expect all landlords to comply with this responsibility,” it said.

“In keeping with the RTB’s role in maintaining the register, and to promote compliance, the RTB contacts landlords prior to each renewal date to remind them of their registration obligations and to prompt landlords to renew the registration of each tenancy, where the tenancy is still active.

“A statutory scheme of late fees is in place to incentivise compliance with this requirement and to penalise landlords for failing to properly register their tenancies on time.”

Before an annual registration was introduced on April 4th this year, landlords had to register their tenancies with the RTB every four or six years, or when a new tenancy began.

The RTB said that the registration fee at the time was €90 and the late fee was €90.

“Please note that if a tenancy was not registered when it was due to be registered prior to April 4th, 2022, this tenancy would be subject to a late fee of €90,” the RTB said.

The statement continued: “The RTB is committed to a proactive and responsive regulatory approach in the public interest. We take deliberate and continuing non-compliance seriously.”

“The RTB makes every effort to inform landlords of their obligations to register and to renew their tenancies.

“Recognising that the vast majority of landlords [and their agents] comply voluntarily with their obligations, the RTB aims to invoke formal compliance action in those cases where this is in the public interest, and where other approaches have clearly failed.”

Criminal offence

It said that deliberately failing to register a tenancy is a criminal offence and also constitutes “improper conduct” under the law, and can lead to a conviction, a fine or imprisonment.

“As part of its ongoing work to build the RTB as an effective regulator, we are close to publishing a new regulatory risk framework. This will set out in clear terms how the RTB operates as a risk-led regulator.

“Following the publication of this framework, we will undertake a review of our current approach to compliance. As a consequence of this review, and in the context of our forthcoming Statement of Strategy 2023-2025, we expect to publish a detailed compliance policy early in 2023.”

The RTB said it does not comment on the compliance of individual landlords, on investigation cases or on potential prosecutions.

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