In December 2012, a landlord was ordered to pay almost €30,000 in damages after his tenants subjected neighbours to serious antisocial behaviour. The award, one of the highest of its kind by the Private Residential Tenancies Board, has serious implications for landlords.

In this instance a group of 13 residents took two cases to the PRTB (Private Residential Tenancies Board) in relation to antisocial behaviour linked to the tenants of two properties in Bishopscourt Drive, owned by a West Cork-based landlord. The incidents included;   fights outside one of the houses; out-of-control parties; excessive noise, and disturbance; drinking alcohol and urinating in public by tenants, or by people connected to them; and rubbish, including used nappies, being thrown into neighbouring gardens.

The residents said the behaviour went on for several years, and that they were “living in fear” and “felt intimidated”. They said they raised their concerns with the landlord, several times, without substantive or meaningful response. The PRTB tribunal found in favour of the residents, and said the landlord was in breach of his duty to the neighbours of his properties. It ordered him to pay €1,000 to each of the 13 residents in relation to one complaint, and €1,250 to each resident in relation to the second complaint — a combined damages bill of €29,250.

This case highlights the role of the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).The PRTB offers a dispute resolution service to landlords and tenants where any agreement reached with the help of the PRTB or adjudicated by the PRTB is legally binding on both parties. The dispute resolution process used by the PRTB is confidential and non-confrontational. Landlords, tenants or other parties such as neighbours in the above instance can initiate the dispute resolution process. Landlords must be registered with the PRTB to use the service but tenants can use the service even if their landlord has not registered the tenancy.

The PRTB mediates or adjudicates on disputes between landlords, tenants and neighbours regarding rented accommodation. Where differences cannot be resolved informally between both parties, sometimes it is necessary to get the independent and impartial PRTB involved. A private residential tenancy is a tenancy that is agreed privately between a landlord and a tenant. Tenants in local authority housing are not covered by the PRTB as it is only private residential tenancies that are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

Failure to comply with a determination order of the PRTB is an offence. The affected party or the PRTB, if notified and satisfied that an order has not been complied with, may apply to the Circuit Court for an Order directing the party concerned to comply.

If you need professional advice on renting property, Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors can act on your behalf.