Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Private Rental Sector: Discussion

Ms Margaret McCormick:

Where we have a rent arrears case, rather than allowing the system to be abused after the first case where the rent arrears goes through the adjudication process and where it is stated that the rent is due and payable, we are of the view that there should be no allowance to appeal to a tribunal unless that rent is either lodged with the RTB or given to the landlord. This is because that rent is due and payable. There are many things in the legislation which should be enforceable but which are not, and that is one of them. The long process goes ahead. All of the time it is just used to abuse the position when it comes to the non-payment of rent.

The second thing I would like to see is research being done on the results of determination orders. Determination orders are issued, but when we talk to our members about the issue of instances where rent is to be paid, no research has been done to show when it is paid. Our members tell us that regardless of the time it takes to go through the system, the tenant may have no means. At the end of the process, the landlord receives no money back. This occurs in many situations and is greatly problematic.

Returning to something that was mentioned earlier in respect of HAP, there is nothing in that payment to protect a landlord if a tenant stops paying. A tenant can stop paying due to many issues. Some of these can be mental health issues or other issues around it. There is nowhere for the landlord to go at that stage. Something needs to be put in place whereby a local authority can look at the situation, sort it out, help the tenant to stay in the accommodation and help the property owner because the latter has no solution. There is no solution there other than to serve a notice through the rent arrears system, which, again, takes great amount of time. There is no protection in there.