I have a problem with the Residential Leases Board about registering a lease. As of April 4, 2022, owners were required to register leases with the RTB both at the inception of the lease and annually thereafter, for the duration of the lease, at a cost of €40 per year.
Previously, a lease had to be registered at the beginning and once every six years thereafter.
On February 1, 2021, I paid €90 to the RTB for registering a new tenant. As I understood, this payment was for a period of six years and therefore I assumed, as it was a legal contract I had with the RTB, that my registration with them would remain valid until January 2027.
If not, surely RTB should reimburse me for the remaining prorated period, ie four years and nine months at €15 per year, which adds up to €71.25?
When I explained my case to the RTB, I received the following response: “I regret that there is no provision in the Law to refund a registration fee already paid in respect of a lease. Therefore, it is not possible to refund or credit your previous payment.”
According to my calculations, I am being asked to pay more money to RTB due to a change in the rules and the timing of my last payment. This, to me, is very unfair and inequitable.
I’m sure my query will apply to a large number of readers, many of whom are retirees like me, where every dollar counts, especially in these crazy days of rising inflation.
Your query is interesting from several points of view and highlights some of the challenges faced by residential real estate investors.
I welcome the new annual registration process because we need information in real time. We need to know how many owners there are really on the market. Our politicians need to understand that there is a two-tier rental market in Ireland between private landlords and institutional investors. This duality also applies between the rents that were captured before the rent pressure zone was introduced and the rents achieved in the same zone after its introduction that had not previously been rented, i.e. new properties, properties owner-occupied, etc.
There is a fee waiver provided in section 7 of the Amendment Act 2021, so you may be entitled to a credit if you fall within the six year rule and registered after December 24 2016. When a new registration system of this scale is being introduced there will be adjustments needed, and the system may not realize that it should have received a credit for the remaining five years.
if you go to the RTB website and click on the Registrations tab and then Annual Registrations, you can read three examples of annual registration scenarios, which provide more details regarding how the system works. Example 3, Temporary Fee Waiver, is particularly relevant to your situation. The only reservation I have is that when you registered the property on February 1, 2021, it was a Part 4 lease and not a fixed term lease? In short, you may not be entitled to a refund but to an exemption equivalent to €200 for the next five years.
In my experience, this new process is somewhat chaotic. For example, a colleague of mine spends 90 percent of her time working on RTB records. One has to understand that the RTB is dealing with a very complicated process which is part paper based and part IT based system. Merging and collating the details of 300,000 leases into one system in a very short time was always going to be a challenge.
Personally, I’m not inclined to blame RTB for any errors or delays that occur with this process. Rather, it is our legislators who have introduced an overly complex and bureaucratic system at a time when the RTB needed to focus its resources on this new registration process.
Legislation should not be introduced on a whim, but when the structures and resources are in place to properly implement it.
In my opinion, tenancy law has become a political football in this country. Every time there is a change in legislation there are consequences. Homeowners are not exiting the market because of a single change, but as a consequence of a series of legislative changes since 2015 that most private homeowners believe are too complex, challenging and designed to penalize them at every twist and turn.
Whenever legislation changes, the only political voices we hear are for even more punitive measures to be introduced. People then wonder why there is a rental crisis.
Kersten Mehl is a certified surveyor for a residential agency and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland