Sunday 24 March 2019

Student landlord fails in 'women's prison' appeal

The Dochas women's prison in Dublin. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
The Dochas women's prison in Dublin. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The Tax Appeals Commission has said it was "startling" to suggest that student accommodation could be likened to the Dochas women's prison in Dublin. The statement was made in a case where a student accommodation provider failed in an effort to exempt its dwellings from the local property tax.

The provider was not named in the appeal, but had insisted that the accommodation did not conform to the definition of a dwelling in so far as it applied to a property liable for the tax.

The Revenue Commissioners had issued a determination in 2013 to the provider, informing it that all of the student accommodation it provided was subject to the local property tax.

The provider appealed that determination, with ensuing appeal leading to significant arguments as to what constituted a dwelling and "relevant residential property" that would be liable for the contentious tax.

The provider insisted that there was no material difference between its accommodation and a previous court description of the Dochas women's prison, where the former and late Inspector of Prisons noted accommodation there consisted of rooms with "an adjoining bathroom containing a shower, a toilet and a wash-hand basin".

The Tax Appeals Commission said that if a member of the public was asked if the student accommodation in question was the equivalent to a women's prison, "the answer would presumably be in the negative".

"Presumably the students who live in the accommodation provided for by the appellant would not subscribe to that view either," the tax appeals commissioner noted in making his determination.

He added: "I found that the terms and conditions of occupancy [of the student accommodation] were not onerous so as to deprive that occupation of the necessary characteristics as a dwelling."

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