Legal consultations with solicitor Michael Burns on tenant/law issues start from just €75 plus Vat.
This Lawyer.ie guide is brought to you by expert property solicitor, Michael Burns, who specializes in landlord/tenant law.
To arrange a consultation by phone or in person, contact him using the enquiry form or call (01)5677343.
1. Disputes can be referred to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) by a wide range of parties including:
(c) Landlords (but only where the tenancy is registered with the PRTB).
(d) Licensees (in certain circumstances)
(e) Certain third parties who may be affected by a landlord’s failure to enforce
tenant’s obligations (e.g. neighbours)
2. Time waits for no person
The first step to consider is if you are within the time limit to refer a dispute to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (The PRTB)? In general, the Statute of Limitations applies to disputes referred to the PRTB. However, defined limited periods apply to certain types of dispute as follows:
A dispute about a proposed rent increase must be referred to the PRTB before the rent increase is due to take effect or before 28 days has elapsed since the tenant received the notice of the new rent, whichever is the later.
A dispute about the rent applying to a tenancy may not be referred more than 28 days after the tenancy concerned has terminated.
A dispute relating to the validity of a notice of termination must be referred to the PRTB within 28 days of receipt of the notice.
The PRTB, in certain exceptional circumstances, may extend time limits if the applicant can show good grounds for the late application. It should always be borne in mind that any dispute should be referred as speedily as possible as time waits for no person.
UPDATE (26 January 2016): There have been some amendments to legislation affecting PRTB related disputes. A comprehensive updated list of termination notice periods is also available here.
3. Types of disputes
The following are examples of disputes that the PRTB will deal with but other disputes may also be dealt with:
(a) Refund or retention of deposits.
(b) Breaches of tenancy obligations (by either landlords or tenants).
(c) The charging of rents above market rent.
(d) Timing of rent reviews.
(e) Failure to follow the correct procedure to terminate a tenancy.
(f) Invalid reason for terminating a tenancy.
(g) Termination notices.
(h) Tenants and sub-tenants remaining in occupation despite receiving a valid termination notice.
(i) Claims for costs and damages from either the landlord or the tenant arising from failures by either party to comply with their obligations.
(j) Claims for costs or damages or both by a landlord or tenant claiming improper termination of a tenancy.
(k) Failure to comply with a determination order made by the PRTB.
(l) Penalisation of tenants by landlords, e.g. for referring a dispute to the PRTB.
(m) Claims for rent arrears or other charges.
If you are a landlord or tenant and your property dispute is not one of the types of disputes dealt with the PRTB, you can instruct Tyrrell Solicitors to act on your behalf.
It is worth noting that administrative staff of the PRTB are precluded by the Act from offering an interpretation of the law or legal advice in general. If you would like legal advice on any residential property dispute you can contact Tyrrell Solicitors.
4. How to refer a dispute
You download a Dispute Application Form from the PRTB website here.
Complete this form and return it to the PRTB along with €25 (or complete it online for just €15).
Information provided to the PRTB in respect of a dispute will be copied to both parties. Your dispute application will then be scrutinised by the PRTB.
5. The two-stage dispute resolution system
The PRTB will operate a two-stage dispute resolution system.
Stage 1 consists of either mediation or adjudication. Both mediation and adjudication are confidential to the parties. Stage 2 is a hearing by a Tenancy Tribunal.
There is an exception to the two-stage system where a serious dispute exists
If there is a serious dispute e.g. threat to life, illegal eviction. The PRTB may consider if an interim or interlocutory injunction to restrain the landlord and reinstate the tenant pending the Board’s determination of the dispute is necessary. The PRTB may also consider if the case should proceed to Tribunal Hearing.
6. First Stage
Parties are invited to select mediation or adjudication.
If both parties agree to mediation, a PRTB Mediator will be appointed to assist the parties to resolve the dispute themselves. The mediation process is supportive and non-confrontational. It assists the parties to explore each other’s respective positions and reach a resolution of the dispute to which both are agreed.
- Mediation hearing
A mediated agreement is reached by both parties and the mediator. The mediated agreement is confirmed to the PRTB and a determination order is then made on the basis of the agreement. If no agreement exists one or more parties may appeal to a Tribunal within 21 days of the statement of the mediation hearing being served on them.
- Stage 2-Tenancy Tribunal
At the Tribunal a determination order is made.
It is important to note that if the determination order is not complied with the board may seek enforcement through the courts.
- Stage 1
If both parties agree to adjudication then a local adjudicator is appointed and provided with the case details. Both parties are advised of arrangements for the adjudication hearing.
- Adjudication Hearing
The Adjudicator’s Report issues to the PRTB and is forwarded to both parties.
One or more of the parties may appeal to a Tribunal against the adjudicator’s determination within 21 days of the report being served on them.
- Stage 2-Tenancy Tribunal
If the Adjudicator’s decision is rejected by one or more parties, it goes to the tribunal hearing and a determination order is then made.
If the Adjudicator’s decision is accepted by both parties it is confirmed to the PRTB. A determination order is then made on the basis of the Adjudicator’s decision.
If the determination order is not complied with the board may seek enforcement through the courts.
8. What is the Tenancy Tribunal?
Each Tenancy Tribunal will consist of three persons who have relevant professional knowledge and experience. The Tenancy Tribunal holds its hearings in public.
Court rules will be applied by the PRTB. The parties will be allowed participate fully and give their evidence. The parties may, if they wish, be represented at the Tribunal and bring their own witnesses. If you wish you can instruct Tyrrell Solicitors to act on your behalf. However the cost of professional representation may or may not be awarded by the Tribunal.
Where it considers it appropriate the Tribunal may summon witnesses, require the production of any document and take evidence under oath. The Tribunal’s determination of the dispute will be issued to the parties as a determination order of the PRTB and is binding unless appealed, within 21 days, to the High Court on a point of law. The PRTB’s determination orders will be published.
If you wish you contact a solicitor below to provide you with legal advice. If you would like to appeal The Tribunal’s determination order to the High Court you can instruct Tyrrell Solicitors to act on your behalf. Depending on the outcome of your High Court case legal costs may also be made in your favour.
9. Administration costs to the PRTB
It costs €100 (online fee is €85) to appeal an adjudicator’s or mediator’s decision and refer a dispute to a tenancy tribunal.
Failure to comply with a determination order of the PRTB is an offence. The affected party or the PRTB, if notified and satisfied that an order has not been complied with, may apply to the Circuit Court for an Order directing the party concerned to comply. If you find yourself in this situation you can instruct a solicitor below to act on your behalf and defend or appeal the Circuit Courts Order. Depending on the outcome of your Circuit Court case legal costs may also be made in your favour.