When a landlord or tenant seeks assistance from the Residential Tenancies Board (the RTB) in resolving a residential tenancy dispute, they will receive a legally binding determination order from the RTB.
The determination order sets out the steps to be taken by the parties to resolve the issue. Where the determination order is not complied with within the specified period, enforcement proceedings must be taken before the Court to compel the other party to co-operate. As of 26 February 2018, the enforcement of RTB determination orders has moved from the Circuit Court to the District Court.
Who can enforce?
Enforcement proceedings can be taken by either:
- The RTB on behalf of the aggrieved landlord or tenant; or
- The aggrieved landlord or tenant themselves.
Due to financial constraints, the RTB is not in a position to take every case of enforcement before the Courts. It may seem like a daunting task for a landlord or tenant to consider taking a case before the District Court themselves. The RTB have issued guidelines on taking enforcement proceedings before the District Court. Below are some of the key steps in the process.
Key steps in enforcing a Determination Order
- Pre-Proceedings Letter - A pre-proceedings letter should be sent by the person intending to take enforcement proceedings before the Court (the Applicant) to the party against whom the determination order is to be enforced (the Respondent). The purpose of the letter is to allow the Respondent a further period (7 or 14 days for example) to comply with the determination order and warns them that the Applicant will commence legal proceedings if the determination order is not complied with after the expiration of that period. This is an optional step; however, it is recommended that the Applicant takes this step as the letter will be relevant to any application for costs, which may be made against the Respondent.
- Preparation of an Application - If the Respondent has still not complied with the determination order, the Applicant can proceed to make an application to the District Court. The application must be made in district in which the tenancy or dwelling is situated. The Applicant must complete a Notice of Application form which is available from www.courts.ie. This is accompanied by an affidavit outlining the facts of the case. The affidavit will include any relevant documents evidencing the dispute, which should be requested from the RTB. The affidavit must be sworn by the Applicant in the presence of a solicitor or commissioner for oaths.
- Filing & Stamping the Documentation - The documents must be brought to the District Court Stamping Office in order to pay stamp duty and filed in the District Court Office. The Applicant will be given a record number and “a return date” which is the date on which the case will be first listed in Court.
- Serving Notice on Offending Party - Once the documents have been filed, they must be served on the Respondent, the RTB and any other relevant party. This can be done by way of personal service, prepaid registered post or, if seeking vacant possession of the property, the Applicant may serve the tenant by leaving a copy addressed to the tenant at the property. The Applicant should check the time limits for service. When the documents have been served, the Applicant must make a declaration of service in the presence of a solicitor or commissioner for oaths outlining how the documents were served. This declaration should be stamped with the relevant stamp duty payment and filed in the District Court office together with the original Notice of Application no later than four clear days (if filing in person) or seven clear days (if filing by post) before the return date.
- Attending Court - The Applicant must attend the District Court on the return date and bring at least two copies of the documents required for the case. On this date, the Judge may hear the application or give further instructions and adjourn the case for a later date. On the hearing date, the case will be called and the Applicant or their legal representative must present the case to the Judge. The Judge may make a decision then or may also adjourn to allow for further submissions. If the Judge is satisfied by the evidence, the Judge will make an order enforcing the Determination Order of the RTB.
- Serving the Court Order - Once the court order is obtained, the Applicant must serve it on the Respondent. This can be done by way of prepaid registered post or personal service. If seeking vacant possession of the property, the Applicant should arrange for personal service on the tenant. If the Respondent fails to comply with the court order, further steps to enforce it may be required. You should contact your solicitor to discuss further options available to you.
Future of Landlord and Tenant Disputes
As there are a higher number of District Courts in Ireland than Circuit Courts and due to the lower costs associated with District Court applications, it is anticipated that it will be easier and quicker for landlords or tenants to enforce RTB determination orders. It is predicted that a larger number of enforcement orders will be issued for failure to comply with a determination order. This is positive news as an unresolved landlord and tenant dispute can be costly and time consuming.