Residential tenancies act 2004: review and assessment

AuthorÁine Ryall
PositionSenior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University College Cork
Judicial Studies Institute Journal [6:1
The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (RTA) introduced a
new and very detailed legislative framework governing private
residential tenancies.2 At the time of writing, the RTA has been
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University College Cork. Thanks to Brian
Gallagher, Eoin O’Sullivan, Anne Colley, Sheila McMahon and Marjorie
Murphy for comments and suggestions. This article is a substantially revised
and updated version of a paper presented at a seminar held in the Faculty of
Law, UCC on the 1st December 2005 on the theme “Residential Tenancies Act
2004: Update, review and assessment” and published in (2006) 11
Conveyancing and Property Law Journal 4. It is based on material available to
me as of the 30th April 2006 and draws on research for a forthcoming book
Regulation of Residential Tenancies to be published by Thomson Round Hall
in 2007.
1 The RTA is based, in the main, on the recommendations set out in the Report
of the Commission on the Private Rented Residential Sector (Dublin:
Stationary Office, 2000). The Commission’s report sets out its main
conclusions and recommendations in ch.8 and is available at See Ryall, “Residential Tenancy Law: An
Assessment of the Recommendations of the Commission on the Private Rented
Residential Sector” (2001) 6 Conveyancing and Property Law Journal 5;
Ryall, “Reform of Residential Tenancy Law: A Critical Appraisal of Recent
Government Proposals” (2001) 6 Conveyancing and Property Law Journal 31,
for a detailed account of the background to the RTA. See Ó Dúlacháin,
“Residential Tenancies Act 2004,” a paper presented at the Continuing Legal
Education Lecture, Law Library, 16th November 2004, for a critical
commentary on the RTA.
2 The scope of the RTA is treated in detail below. It should be noted at the
outset, however, that the formerly rent-controlled sector is regulated separately
pursuant to the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Acts, 1982-1983. So-
called “long occupation equity” tenancies arising under Part II of the Landlord
and Tenant (Amendment) Act, 1980 (“the 1980 Act”) are governed by that Act
and not by the RTA. “Long occupation equity” tenancies may arise where a
residential tenant clocks-up twenty years continuous occupation of a
“tenement” within the meaning of s.5 of the 1980 Act. See s.13 (1)(b) of the
1980 Act. Note, however, that ss.191 and 192 of the RTA introduced
important changes to this aspect of the 1980 Act. Pursuant to s.191 of the
2006] Residential Tenancies Act 2004 61
in force for over 18 months.3 It is, therefore, timely to reflect on
some of the key changes introduced by the RTA and to review the
impact that these changes have had in practice.
Part II of this article introduces the RTA and explains how it
interacts with other legislative measures that regulate the
landlord-tenant relationship. Part III considers selected themes of
practical interest including: scope of the RTA, tenancy
obligations, rent and rent reviews, security of tenure, tenancy
terminations and dispute resolution. The most dramatic change
brought about by the RTA is the establishment of a new public
body, the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), which has
taken over jurisdiction from the courts in most residential tenancy
disputes.4 As of 25 January 2006, a total of 987 cases had been
referred to the PRTB and the Board had issued 100 Determination
Orders (a number of cases were resolved or withdrawn during the
dispute resolution process).5 Pursuant to s.124 RTA, the Circuit
Court plays an important role in the enforcement of orders issued
by the Board. That court also has jurisdiction, pursuant to ss.189
and 190 RTA, to grant interim or interlocutory relief in
RTA, a tenant may now opt to renounce the right to apply for a new tenancy
under section 13 (1)(b) of the 1980 Act. The provisions of the RTA apply to
tenants who opt to renounce their 1980 Act rights. Section 192(2) of the RTA
provides for the abolition of the right to apply for a new tenancy from the 1st
September 2009.
3 The Residential Tenancies Act, 2004 (Commencement) Order 2004 (S.I. No.
505 of 2004), set the 1st September 2004 as the commencement date for: Part
1; Part 4; Part 5 (other than sections 71 and 72); Part 7; Part 8 (other than
section 159(1)); Part 9 (other than sections 182, 189, 190), paras. (a) and (d) of
section 193, and subsections (4) and (5) of section 195) and the Schedule. The
1st of September 2004 is also the establishment day for the purposes of Part 8
of the RTA. See Residential Tenancies Act, 2004 (Establishment Day) Order
2004 (S.I. No. 525 of 2004). The Residential Tenancies Act, 2004
(Commencement) (No. 2) Order 2004 (S.I. No. 750 of 2004) set the 6th
December 2004 as the commencement date for: Part 2; Part 3; ss.71 and 72;
Part 6; s.159(1); ss.182, 189 and 190; paras. (a) and (d) of s.193; and
subsections (4) and (5) of s.195.
4 RTA, s.182. Note that the Board’s dispute resolution jurisdiction is subject to
certain limits set down in s.182(1).
5 See Murphy, “The Private Residential Tenancies Board’s Perspective,” a
paper presented at the Law Society’s Continuing Professional Development
seminar on the theme of Dispute Resolution and the Residential Tenancies Act
2004, 28th February 2006, at 16.
Judicial Studies Institute Journal [6:1
appropriate cases. The Board’s orders, reflecting the
determinations of Tenancy Tribunals, may be appealed to the
High Court on a point of law within 21 days and are otherwise
binding. Three cases are pending before the High Court
presently. The different roles played by the courts under the RTA
(i.e., interim/interlocutory relief, appeal on a point of law,
enforcement of Determination Orders where a party has failed to
comply with one or more terms of an order; and proceedings in
relation to offences), are explained in Part IV. The article
concludes by assessing the overall effectiveness of the new
statutory framework to date.
The general scheme of the RTA is as follows:
Part 1 Preliminary and General
Part 2 Tenancy Obligations of Landlords and
Part 3 Rent and Rent Reviews
Part 4 Security of Tenure
Part 5 Tenancy Terminations - Notice Periods
and other Procedural Requirements
Part 6 Dispute Resolution
Part 7 Registration of Tenancies
Part 8 Private Residential Tenancies Board
Part 9 Miscellaneous
Although it is a substantial piece of legislation running to
over 200 sections, the RTA does not consolidate the various
legislative measures that govern residential tenancies. The new
statutory scheme was superimposed on a scattered selection of
existing measures.6 A degree of research beyond the text of the
RTA is therefore required in order to gain a complete picture of
the relevant legal rules. The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions)
6 See further Ryall, “Residential Tenancies Act 2004” (2005) 10 Conveyancing
and Property Law Journal 10.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT