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 Header Item Private Residential Tenancies Board Remit (Continued)
 Header Item Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2013: Report and Final Stages

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 809 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating] The landlord has not engaged with the Private Residential Tenancies Board.

I am conscious that the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 is proceeding through the Houses. I hope that following its enactment the Private Residential Tenancies Board will have greater powers to enable it bring about the result that families, including the one to which I referred, need and deserve. I would be grateful if the Minister of State could provide me with some comfort on this particular issue.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. The Private Residential Tenancies Board, PRTB, was established on 1 September 2004 as an independent statutory body under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. The principal activities of the PRTB include the registration of private residential tenancies and the resolution of disputes between tenants and landlords, as well as the provision of information, assistance and advice to the Minister on the private residential rented sector.

The mandate of the Private Residential Tenancies Board is defined in section 151 of the Act and can be summarised as follows: the resolution of disputes between tenants and landlords; the registration of particulars in respect of tenancies in the private residential rented sector; the provision to the Minister of advice concerning policy in relation to the private rented sector; the development and publication of guidelines for good practice by those involved in the private rented sector; the collection and provision of information relating to the private rented sector, including information concerning prevailing rent levels; the conduct of research into the private rented sector and monitoring the operation of various aspects of the sector where the board considers it appropriate; the review of the operation of the Act and any related enactments, and the making of recommendations to the Minister for amendments to same and the performance of any additional functions conferred on the board.

The PRTB received 2,272 adjudication-mediation applications in 2012 and 268 appeals to tribunal. Deposit retention continued to be the single biggest category of dispute and accounted for 37% of all applications in 2012. The case referred to by the Deputy is one of those cases. A tenancy deposit is the property of the tenant. A landlord is only entitled to retain a deposit where there is damage in excess of normal wear and tear or where there are rent arrears or utility bills outstanding. In determinations by the PRTB on deposit retention disputes in 2012, 43% of deposits were partially returned to the tenant, 33% were refunded in full and 24% were retained in full by the landlord. As such, in 76% of cases some or all of the deposit was wrongfully retained by the landlord.

The commitment in the programme for Government 2011 to establish a tenancy deposit protection scheme is to address the problem raised by the Deputy. On foot of this commitment, I asked the PRTB to commission research on such a scheme. The research contract was awarded to Indecon economic consultants. I received the final report on the topic from Indecon in November last year. The report presents a comprehensive analysis of the range of options for delivery of the programme for Government commitment. I am engaging with the Office of the Attorney General with regard to the drafting of proposals to establish a deposit protection scheme with a view to bringing proposals to Government and introducing these provisions on Committee Stage of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 in the Seanad, which Bill the Deputy will be aware was debated in this House earlier on this term.

The unjustified retention of deposits by landlords is an issue that concerns me greatly and I am very much committed to the establishment of a deposit protection scheme in this jurisdiction. The establishment of such a scheme was a priority I identified when I was appointed as Minister of State. I am fully committed to delivering on deposit protection in the context of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012. As I said earlier, it is proposed to introduce the amendment in the Seanad. Following enactment of that Bill there will be a deposit protection scheme in place, which means large numbers of cases, including that referred to by the Deputy, will no longer be required to go directly for arbitration. The deposit will be held by the scheme, which means a much more simplified system of ensuring deposits are returned unless there is a justified reason for a landlord retaining it.

Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating I thank the Minister of State for her reply and proposed solution to the problem. While nothing in life is perfect, particularly in Ireland today, the Minister of State has gone a long way towards reassuring me that the measures being considered will help to deal with the 37% of cases in which deposits were not returned.

I would like to put on the record that in the case to which I referred there was no claim on the part of the landlord for utility bills, damages and so on. The landlord simply did not engage on the issue. I will monitor the proposed deposit protection scheme. It is clear that the Minister of State and her Department have focused on a real need in this area. I hope the resident involved in the case I mentioned and all others being treated meanly by landlords will have their cases resolved. I await the introduction of the scheme.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan We all want to ensure the amendment is introduced as quickly as possible in order that the scheme can be established. I believe it will provide relief for the large number of families for whom deposits are crucial, in particular when moving home. It is hard to come up with lump sums at that time. To be deprived of one's deposit when one is entitled to it is a real difficulty for families such as the one mentioned by the Deputy.

Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2013: Report and Final Stages

Acting Chairman (Deputy Seán Kenny): Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny Amendment No. 1 has been ruled out of order as it is in conflict with the principle of the Bill as read a Second Time.

  Amendment No. 1 not moved.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Seán Kenny): Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny Amendments Nos. 2 and 4 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I move amendment No. 2:

Section 2(1) defines the scope of the section. It currently covers land which is the principal private residence of the mortgagor or a person whose consent for a conveyance would be required under the Family Home Protection Act 1976. On Committee Stage, I undertook to broaden the scope of section 2 to cover the shared homes of civil partners under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. The purpose of amendment No. 2, therefore, is to put family homes under the 1976 Act and shared homes under the 2010 Act on the same footing under section 2 of the Bill. Amendment No. 4 is a purely drafting amendment designed to improve the introductory wording of section 2(2).

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