Monday 19 August 2019

Company director fails to overturn a direction he pay €40,000 rent arrears on Foxrock home

In her judgment, Ms Justice Baker upheld the PRTB findings.
In her judgment, Ms Justice Baker upheld the PRTB findings.

Tim Healy

A COMPANY director has failed to overturn a direction he pay €40,000 rent arrears on his south Dublin home to his landlord, a bank-appointed receiver.

The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) was entitled to find software developer Michael Doyle is contractually obliged to pay rent to receiver Tom Kavanagh on a property at Rockbrook Hall, Bray Road, Foxrock, Dublin, the High Court ruled.

Mr Doyle and his family have lived there since late 2008.

Ms Justice Marie Baker said Mr Doyle entered into a residential tenancy agreement with Mark McInerney concerning the Foxrock property in December 2008.

The initial monthly rent of €5,000 was reduced by agreement in December 2010 to €3,000 per month.

Mr Kavanagh has agreed he must accept the reduced rent figure, the judge said.

Mr Kavanagh informed Mr Doyle in April 2013 he had been appointed receiver over some assets of Cheval Construction Ltd, of which Mr McInerney was a director and secretary, and asked that rent from then on be paid to him.

On October 11, 2013, Mr Kavanagh served a notice of termination on grounds rent had not been paid and seeking that Mr Doyle give up possession of the property.

Apart from a payment of €2,000 in May 2014, no rent was paid to Mr Kavanagh, the judge noted. 

Mr Doyle had on October 22, 2013, sought dispute resolution before the PRTB, arguing the termination notice was invalid.

A PRTB adjudicator, in a determination of December 11th 2013, found the notice was valid and directed Mr Doyle pay rent arrears of €40,098 within 28 days.

In High Court proceedings against the PRTB, Mr Doyle argued it had no jurisdiction to make a determination concerning rent when, he claimed, there was no dispute or complaint before the PRTB about any matter other than the termination notice.

In her judgment, Ms Justice Baker upheld the PRTB findings.

The Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2009 provides either a tenant or landlord may refer a dispute for resolution, she said. 

Disagreeing with Mr Doyle's argument rent was not an issue before the PRTB, the judge said he was effectively saying the person who first refers the issue to the PRTB, fully delineates the matters that may be resolved in that process.

The PRTB and its adjudicator were entitled to inquire into each relevant aspect of the dispute, including rent arrears and the amount of those, which latter issue came to be "a matter of little contention" between the parties, she said. 

Documents sent by the PRTB to both sides in advance of the hearing made evident the question of rent arrears was "a live issue" in the file, that could have come as "no surprise" to Mr Doyle and the landlord also put before the adjudicator his claim for rent arrears.

Mr Doyle's primary argument, that the PRTB and its adjudicator were constrained in their approach because of how he had framed the dispute was incorrect "as a matter of law and as a matter of good sense".

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