Landlords and renters involved in disputes over the last few months have been ordered to pay more than €130,000 for breaches of tenancy laws.
Disputes published by the rental watchdog show dozens of tenants have accumulated arrears worth thousands of euro, while landlords have unfairly retained deposits, failed to maintain their properties, and served invalid eviction notices and rent reviews.
Of the 70 new decisions published by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), 22 were related to rent arrears, with tenants owing €112,000.
One tenant was ordered to pay Davy Property Holdings, a private unlimited company, €10,290 and also had their deposit of €1,500 retained.
The dispute concerned a one-bed apartment in the Liberties in Dublin city, which was recently advertised as being available to rent for €1,500 a month.
Some tenants have accumulated significant arrears, with two renters ordered to pay a receiver €22,800 after failing to pay rent for a house in Claremorris, Co Mayo, over a period of two years.
Other tenants owe their landlords between €400 and €14,800.
Housing bodies and private landlords say they experienced an increase in rent arrears as a result of the pandemic.
Social housing charity Oaklee Housing said the impact of arrears is “considerable” as it negatively affects the ability to deliver services to other tenants.
“This includes services for tenants in sheltered accommodation, our extensive maintenance programme required to maintain our homes at a lettable standard as well as our regulatory compliance requirements regarding electrical and gas maintenance services,” an Oaklee spokesperson said.
Tenants have also had issues with landlords refusing to carry out repairs and keeping their deposits.
A landlord renting a house in Kilkee, Co Clare, was ordered to pay a tenant €3,890 for breaching her obligations in respect of the standard and maintenance of the property.
Another property owner letting a house in Co Meath was ordered to pay her tenant €2,000 for unlawfully interfering with their right to peaceful and exclusive occupation of the dwelling and for failing to carry out repairs in compliance with minimum housing standards.
Other landlords paid damages of up to €1,000 for unlawfully terminating tenancies and serving invalid notices of termination.
Notice to quit statistics collected by the RTB indicate a steady increase in landlords leaving the market. In the first three months of 2022, 1,132 landlords terminated tenancies, with the vast majority doing so because they intended to sell.
However, some of these notices were found to be in breach of tenancy laws.
A landlord of a property in Ratoath, Co Meath, was ordered to pay a tenant €2,844 for unlawfully terminating the tenancy. Six determination orders published by the RTB over the weekend found the notices to quit were invalid.
There were also a number of deposit retention cases, with landlords ordered to return deposits worth up to €2,125.
In total, landlords were ordered to pay tenants more than €22,000 after the RTB ruled against them.
Over the last three years, the RTB has commenced over 400 investigations into certain breaches of rental law including 115 in the last 12 months.
Of the over 400 investigations, just 60 (15pc) have resulted in sanctions. Currently, the RTB’s Investigation Unit cannot investigate cases involving deposit retention or standards and maintenance of properties.
The RTB said the pandemic impacted proceedings, with the backlog of rental disputes currently being worked through.
“The RTB has a pipeline of cases at various stages of the process,” it said.
“It is important to note that the 60 sanctions confirmed to the end of May 2022 do not reflect the number of sanctions applied to date in the investigations process by decision-makers, nor do they provide a representative sample of the quantum or types of sanctions that will be confirmed in due course.”