I thank the Chairman. I am grateful for the opportunity to appear before the joint committee in my capacity as chairman designate of the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB. If it is acceptable to the committee I will first highlight my career as it is relevant to the role of the RTB.
I qualified as a chartered surveyor in the late 1970s and worked for ten years in one of Ireland's leading firms of surveyors, valuers and estate agents, gaining experience across a wide range of property consultancy, management, valuation and investment areas. In 1980 I joined the Dublin Institute of Technology, now the Technological University of Dublin, TU Dublin, as lecturer in urban economics and property evaluations where I have spent the bulk of my career, retiring recently as the head of the school of surveying and construction management. This is a large school in TU Dublin with some 1,000 students across 14 academic programmes from degree to post-graduate levels, including PhD students. That was a senior appointment in the university and it required an active role in public sector management, including participation in committees, boards and councils at the highest levels in the university and outside it.
During my career I lectured in variety of areas related to property, including property valuation techniques and housing. My research interests included property taxation, urban economics, housing and, in particular in later years largely because of my involvement in the Residential Tenancies Board, in the private rental sector. I have also engaged with professional and commercial organisations, including the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, and the Irish Property and Facility Management Association. These engagements have given me a wide range of experience in the management and governance of organisations with a public service remit and an active membership. This involved chairing many committees with those organisations and included a term as the president of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.
Internationally, I have served for eight years on the governing council of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which is a very large professional body based in London with members in a large number of countries around the world.
Of particular importance in terms of my consideration of my role as chairman of the RTB is my lead role in the Commission on the Private Rented Residential Sector, which I chair. In 1999 I was asked by the then Minister of State with responsibility for housing and urban renewal, former Deputy Robert Molloy, to chair the commission and it reported in 2000. The purpose of the commission was to examine the working of the landlord and tenant relationship with regard to residential tenancies, and to consider key issues such as security of tenure, the supply of accommodation, investment return, market considerations and constraints on the development of the sector. The terms of reference were deliberately wide, as the private rented sector had been neglected for many years and was in need of reform. The commission's report informed the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, which provided for the creation of the Private Residential Tenancies Board, PRTB, now the RTB. From 2004 to 2009 I chaired the PRTB, as it then was, during the period it was established. Also of note in the context of my experience across housing is my role in 2003 in assisting the all-party Oireachtas committee on the Constitution in the preparation of its ninth report on property rights.
It is 15 years since the now RTB was established and 19 years since the Commission on the Private Rented Residential Sector reported. The sector has changed significantly in this time and the remit of the RTB has also expanded and devolved considerably. I believe I will be able to contribute positively to supporting change. The important changes I oversaw as the chairman of the commission and subsequently as chairman of the RTB created a new regulatory framework and a quasi-judicial service to replace the courts for landlords and tenants. The implementation of the recommendations from the commission was significant at the time and I believe this experience gives me a particular understanding and insight, which I bring to the RTB.
I now turn to what I see as the priorities important for the role of the chairman and for my approach as the chairman of the RTB. There are core tasks with regard to the leadership and effectiveness of the board. I have summarised a number of key priorities. One is to oversee the effective implementation of the considerable programme of change on foot of recent legislation. This expands the remit of the board to all student-specific accommodation. I am sure that members of the committee will be aware of much of this. It will also give the organisation extensive new powers that give the RTB the ability to proactively investigate and regulate the sector. This is an important development for the regulation of the overall rental market. It is important that the approach to doing this is sensitive and that we focus on supporting and informing people in complying with regulations, as well as empowering people with knowledge.
The ultimate goal is compliance, not punishment. We need to support landlords in fulfilling their obligations.
Second, the RTB has an important role to play in using and developing data and research to provide evidence and intelligence on the rental sector. We will continue to grow and invest in this area. It was an important aspect of the recommendations in the original commission's report because at the time it was seen, from the State's perspective, that a lack of information was one of the deficiencies in analysing what was going in the sector. It still happens to some extent.
Third, it is important that the RTB can deliver in a challenging environment. The organisation is supporting a significant proportion of the population and demand for its services continues to increase. Maintaining existing services, organisational supports and adequate resources to ensure effective delivery is a core priority.
Fourth, the RTB has an ambitious five-year strategic plan, underpinned by a vision, to support and develop a well functioning rental sector that is fair, accessible and beneficial to all. I believe in this vision and will work with the board, the director, the executive and stakeholders to support the delivery of the strategic priorities of the RTB.
Fifth, if appointed, I intend to strive to achieve the highest standards of good governance and adhere to best practice, consistent with the RTB's position as a public body and our important mandate. I will support the organisation and monitor our performance in delivery and achieving the planned outcomes within the strategy.
There are significant changes affecting the rental sector, with restricted supply alongside increasing demand for accommodation, affordability issues, with rents at an all-time high and significant legislative and regulatory change and uncertainty. The RTB plays a critical role in working to resolve the crisis. It does this through an enhanced regulatory function, education and awareness which empower people with knowledge on their rights and responsibilities, as well as our data which provide a robust evidence base to inform policy.
I again thank the Chairman and committee members for inviting me to meet them. I assure the committee that I have a genuine interest in this role and believe I can make an effective contribution to the important work of the RTB. I look forward to engaging with the committee again in the future if appointed to this important role.