Landlords of a Dublin property have hit out at the dispute resolution process after former tenants, who were ordered to pay more than €10,000 in rent arrears, left “without paying a penny”.
The couple moved abroad to pursue new job opportunities and had been letting their home to a family since July 2020.
They stopped paying rent a few months later, claiming the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted them financially.
However, they were also involved in another rent arrears dispute in 2019, where they were ordered by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to pay back more than €6,000 to a property development company.
One of the landlords involved in the recent case, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Irish Independent: “We were paying full-time childcare and rent abroad to the equivalent of €5,700 per month and couldn’t also afford to also cover the mortgage in full when they stopped paying rent, so we had no other choice to return to Ireland as our life savings were evaporating.”
A warning letter was issued to the tenants in November 2020 after they missed that month’s payment. They continued to pay rent in December, but in May 2021 they stopped again.
The landlords then took a case with the RTB, which ruled in their favour.
A determination order published in November stated the tenants must pay back €10,700 in arrears. The couple, who also have a young child, have not received anything to date.
“We issued the second warning in May. Then after the warning we had to issue an eviction notice, giving them another four weeks to leave, but they did not,” the landlord said.
“We found a new family with two kids to move into the house, but as the others would not leave, we had to tell them to find somewhere else.
“We are not dealing with the RTB anymore as we found the experience frustrating.
"As there is no effective way for us to ever recover the outstanding debt, we want to forget and move on with our lives.
"The money is a secondary concern right now as we need to focus our time and energy on restoring our family home and mental health, which have been severely impacted during the dispute process and the lack of support from the RTB.
"We hope this testimony will raise alarm bells that the dispute process must change and become effective."
He also claimed that outstanding electricity bills of more than €4,000 and TV licence warning letters addressed to the former tenants have continued to arrive by post.
The tenants were paying rent of over €2,600 a month for a four-bedroom house and had allegedly been subletting some of the rooms without the knowledge of the landlords.
When contacted for comment, the RTB said it cannot comment on individual cases.
“The vast majority of determination orders are complied with. A party can request assistance from the RTB to enforce an order in the District Court. Parties can also take their own enforcement cases directly to the District Court and the RTB supports these parties in doing so.”
However, this is often a timely and costly process.
Social Democrats housing spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan said the RTB has struggled to get sufficient resources since it was set up.
“If you want a strong rental sector, you need a strong body to regulate it," he said.
"For the system to work, people need to have confidence in it. It should be fast, easy to use and easy to get your award.
“It’s deeply frustrating and demoralising if you get a finding in a favour, but yet there is no comeuppance.
“A lot of landlords own one property and one home - they’re not professional landlords.
"A well-resourced RTB is really important to be able to help them if they have disputes. It’s deeply frustrating for tenants who lose deposits unfairly to go through that system and for landlords who may have issues with tenants.”