Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (494)

Seán Kyne


494. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm that the Private Residential Tenancies Board is empowered to impose a penalty which is the effective doubling of the registration fee for rented properties; the source of this specific power; and his views that a tapered penalty would be more appropriate in the cases of genuine and honest delayed payment, particularly if brought about by postal delays. [5683/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 regulates the tenant-landlord relationship in the private rented residential sector. The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) was established under the Act to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants in this sector. Following a review of the Act in 2009, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment)(No 2) Bill 2012 was published in July 2012. The Bill passed Report and Final stages in the Dáil in July 2013 and is currently before the Seanad.

Section 134 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 provides that landlords must register each tenancy of a dwelling. The current registration fee for each tenancy is €90 and each tenancy must be registered within 1 month from the date of commencement of that tenancy. Where a landlord does not register the tenancy within that 1 month period, section 136(7) of the 2004 Act provides that the fee for a late application is double the registration fee.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment)(No. 2) Bill 2012 seeks to amend section 137 of the 2004 Act to provide for penalties for late registration on an ascending scale. The purpose of this amendment is both to incentivise early registration and to make the system fairer since under the current provision a landlord who registers a tenancy a year late is subject to the same penalty as a landlord who registers a tenancy a day late. The proposed amendment provides that the late fee will be an additional €20 for each month that the landlord is late registering the tenancy. I intend to propose for a cap on the total late fee that may be charged at Committee stage in the Seanad.