MHC: Real estate professionals lack clarity on assessment of damages

MHC: Real estate professionals lack clarity on assessment of damages

Jamie Fitzmaurice

Real estate professionals lack clarity on how the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) assesses damages in settlements, according to a survey carried out by Mason Hayes & Curran.

The business law firm surveyed over 100 real estate professionals who took part in a recent webinar, finding that 93 per cent said they were unsure how the RTB assesses damages in settlements.

Jamie Fitzmaurice, real estate partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “The RTB operate within the legislation, which unfortunately says very little in terms of damages, apart from capping them at €20,000.

“As the emergency measures brought in to prevent rent increases and stop evictions during the COVID-19 crisis expire at the end of this month, it’s likely that we will see an increase in cases brought to the RTB so it’s unfortunate that the legislation isn’t more proscriptive in terms of setting out parameters.

“The best course of action for landlords operating in the private rental sector is to work out all the financial losses you may have suffered so you can properly interrogate the order, and if you are not satisfied that they have been calculated appropriately, you can consider an appeal.”

The firm also surveyed real estate professionals on proposals to establish a deposit protection scheme governed by the RTB, which split the room with 56 per cent against and 44 per cent in favour.

“This always tends to be one of the most contentious areas in a tenancy,” said Mr Fitzmaurice. “The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2015 contained a proposal for a deposit protection scheme which hasn’t been enacted as yet, and our poll results show how divided opinion is on this area.”

A large majority (81 per cent) of respondents were in favour of a “tenant rating system”, which would give landlords more information about a tenant’s record of anti-social behaviour or rent arrears before agreeing a lease.

“A tenant rating system can be favoured by landlords as a way to reduce the risk of having to deal with termination notices in relation to anti-social behaviour down the road”, Mr Fitzmaurice said.

“If landlords engage in dispute resolution around anti-social behaviour, it’s essential to document everything and make sure you have the cooperation of any other parties such as neighbours who have witnessed the behaviour to attend hearings as well in order to resolve the claim.”

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