22 1983

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Number 22 of 1983


HOUSING (PRIVATE RENTED DWELLINGS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, 1983


ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

Section

1.

Interpretation and construction.

2.

Establishment of the Tribunal.

3.

Membership of Houses of Oireachtas, etc., by member of Tribunal.

4.

Seal of the Tribunal.

5.

Fixing of terms of tenancies.

6.

Rent officers.

7.

Terms of tenancies.

8.

Date from which new rent applies.

9.

Amendment of sections 12 and 13 of Act of 1982 and declaratory provision.

10.

Withdrawal of certain applications under section 12 of Act of 1982.

11.

Appeals to Tribunal.

12.

Compensation for loss.

13.

Question of law: appeal, referral to High Court.

14.

Disclosure of interest.

15.

Regulations supplementing this Act.

16.

False information.

17.

Right to enter and inspect dwellings.

18.

Application of section 4 of Act of 1982.

19.

Laying of regulations before Houses of the Oireachtas.

20.

Grants to housing authorities.

21.

Expenses.

22.

Short title, collective citation and commencement.


Acts Referred to

Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Act, 1982

1982, No. 6

Local Government Act, 1955

1955, No. 9

Public Offices Fees Act, 1879

1879, c. 58

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Number 22 of 1983


HOUSING (PRIVATE RENTED DWELLINGS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, 1983


AN ACT TO MAKE NEW PROVISION FOR THE FIXING OF THE TERMS OF THE TENANCIES OF CERTAIN DWELLINGS AND FOR THAT PURPOSE TO PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A RENT TRIBUNAL, FOR THE APPOINTMENT BY HOUSING AUTHORITIES OF RENT OFFICERS AND FOR THE FUNCTIONS OF THE TRIBUNAL AND RENT OFFICERS, TO MAKE CERTAIN CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS TO THE HOUSING (PRIVATE RENTED DWELLINGS) ACT, 1982 , AND TO PROVIDE FOR OTHER RELATED MATTERS. [13th July, 1983]

BE IT ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS:

Interpretation and construction.

1. —(1) In this Act, except where the context otherwise requires—

the Act of 1982” means the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Act, 1982 ;

rent officer” means a rent officer appointed under section 6 (2);

the Tribunal” has the meaning assigned to it by section 2 (1).

(2) The Act of 1982 and this Act shall be construed together as one.

(3) A reference in this Act to a section is to a section of this Act unless it is indicated that reference to some other provision is intended.

(4) A reference in this Act to a subsection or paragraph is to a subsection or paragraph of the provision in which the reference occurs unless it is indicated that reference to some other provision is intended.

Establishment of the Tribunal.

2. —(1) There shall be established on such day as the Minister may by order appoint a body to be known as the Rent Tribunal (in this Act referred to as the Tribunal) to perform the functions assigned to it by this Act.

(2) The Tribunal shall consist of the following members, namely, a chairman and so many vice-chairmen and ordinary members as the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service, considers necessary from time to time for the performance by the Tribunal of its functions under this Act.

(3) (a) The chairman, vice-chairmen and the ordinary members shall be appointed by the Minister by order.

(b) The Minister may by order revoke or amend an order under paragraph (a) or this paragraph.

(c) An order under this subsection shall be published in Iris Oifigiúil as soon as may be after it is made.

(4) The Minister, with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service, may from time to time appoint from among his officers so many persons as he considers necessary to assist the Tribunal in the performance of its functions under this Act.

Membership of Houses of Oireachtas, etc., by member of Tribunal.

3. —(1) A person who, for the time being, is entitled under the Standing Orders of either House of the Oireachtas to sit therein or is a representative in the Assembly of the European Communities or a member of a local authority shall be disqualified from being appointed to be a member of the Tribunal.

(2) A member of the Tribunal who—

(a) is nominated either as a member of Seanad Éireann or for election to either House of the Oireachtas, or

(b) is either nominated for election to the Assembly of the European Communities or appointed to be a representative in that Assembly, or

(c) becomes a member of a local authority,

shall thereupon cease to be a member of the Tribunal.

(3) In this section “local authority” means the council of a county, the corporation of a county or other borough, the council of an urban district or the commissioners of a town.

Seal of the Tribunal.

4. —(1) The Tribunal shall provide itself with a seal.

(2) The seal of the Tribunal shall be authenticated by the signature of the chairman of the Tribunal or of a vice-chairman or ordinary member thereof authorised by the Tribunal to act in that behalf or a person appointed under section 2 (4) authorised by the Tribunal to act in that behalf.

(3) Judicial notice shall be taken of the seal of the Tribunal, and every document purporting to be an instrument made by the Tribunal and to be sealed with the seal (purporting to be authenticated in accordance with this section) of the Tribunal shall be received in evidence and shall be deemed to be such instrument without further proof unless the contrary is shown.

Fixing of terms of tenancies.

5. —(1) The landlord or the tenant of a dwelling to which section 8 (1) of the Act of 1982 relates may, subject to subsection (2), at any time—

(a) apply to the Tribunal to fix the terms of the tenancy, or

(b) where an order has been made under section 6 (1), apply to the housing authority in whose functional area the dwelling is situated to have the terms of the tenancy fixed by a rent officer,

and the terms of the tenancy shall be determined by the Tribunal or the rent officer, as the case may be, and shall, subject to this Act, be binding on the landlord and the tenant unless new terms are fixed under this Act.

(2) An application under subsection (1) may be made notwithstanding any agreement between the landlord and the tenant fixing the terms of the tenancy, whether such agreement was entered into before or after the commencement of this section.

(3) (a) Where the terms of a tenancy of a dwelling have been or are, before or after the commencement of this section, fixed by the Court under the Act of 1982 or are fixed under this Act, an application under subsection (1) may not be made until the expiration of four years and nine months from the date on which the terms were so fixed except where the landlord has carried out improvements to the dwelling.

(b) In this subsection “improvements” means any addition to or alteration of a dwelling which adds to the letting value of the dwelling and includes any addition or alteration connected with the provision of any services to the dwelling, but does not include work of repairing, decorating or normal maintenance.

(4) If any dispute or question arises in the interpretation of a determination by the Tribunal or a rent officer under this Act, the Tribunal or the rent officer, as the case may be, shall, on the application of the landlord or the tenant, resolve the matter.

(5) The landlord or tenant making an application under subsection (1) shall give one month's notice in writing to the other party of his intention to make the application.

(6) No application may be made under section 12 (1) of the Act of 1982 after the commencement of this section.

Rent officers.

6. —(1) The Minister may by order direct that all applications for the purpose of fixing the terms of tenancies of dwellings to which section 8 (1) of the Act of 1982 relates shall be made to housing authorities for determination by rent officers appointed for that purpose by housing authorities.

(2) A housing authority, on the making of an order under subsection (1) shall, and may from time to time thereafter, appoint from among the officers of the housing authority or of another housing authority so many persons as they consider necessary to be rent officers for the purposes of this Act.

(3) A housing authority may at any time terminate an appointment made under subsection (2).

(4) Housing authorities may make arrangements for the joint discharge of their functions under this Act.

(5) Where it appears to the Minister that an agreement under section 59 of the Local Government Act, 1955 , ought to be made between housing authorities for the purposes of their functions under this Act, he may, after affording an opportunity to the authorities concerned to make representations to him, require them to enter into such agreement.

(6) The Minister may direct that any such agreement shall contain such terms as he may specify and the authority concerned shall comply with any directions given by the Minister.

(7) A rent officer appointed pursuant to such an agreement shall be the rent officer for the functional areas of the authorities concerned.

(8) An order under subsection (1) may contain provisions relating to applications made under section 5 (1) to the Tribunal, including provisions for the withdrawing of such applications, for the manner in which they are to be withdrawn and for the making of new applications to housing authorities.

Terms of tenancies.

7. —(1) The terms of every tenancy of a dwelling to which section 8 (1) of the Act of 1982 relates shall be such terms as are agreed between the landlord and the tenant or, in default of agreement—

(a) as have been or are, before or after the commencement of this section, fixed by the Court under section 12 of the Act of 1982, or

(b) as shall be fixed by the Tribunal or a rent officer under this Act.

(2) Whenever, after the commencement of this section, the rent of a dwelling is increased by agreement between the landlord and the tenant or by the Tribunal or a rent officer under this Act, the amount of the increase shall not be payable until—

(a) the terms of the tenancy have been set out in written form and signed by the landlord or his agent and a copy thereof has been furnished by the landlord to the tenant, and

(b) the landlord has complied with the requirements of any regulations under section 24 of the Act of 1982 for the time being in force.

Date from which new rent applies.

8. —(1) Where the rent of a dwelling is fixed by the Tribunal or a rent officer, the new rent shall, subject to subsection (2) and section 7 , apply from the first gale day after the date on which the landlord has complied with the requirements of any regulations under section 24 of the Act of 1982 for the time being in force.

(2) Where, on an application under this Act by a landlord or tenant, the rent of a dwelling is fixed and the existing rent was fixed under the Act of 1982 or this Act, the new rent shall apply—

(a) in the case of an application (other than an application made by virtue of section 5 (3)) from whichever of the following dates is the later—

(i) the first gale day after the date referred to in subsection (1), or

(ii) the date which is five years after the date from which the existing rent first applied, and

(b) in the case of an application made by virtue of section 5 (3), the first gale day after the date referred to in subsection (1).

Amendment of sections 12 and 13 of Act of 1982 and declaratory provision.

9. —(1) Section 12 (1) of the Act of 1982 is hereby amended by the insertion after “order of the Court” of “or unless new terms of the tenancy are fixed under the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) (Amendment) Act, 1983”.

(2) Section 13 of the Act of 1982 shall have effect where the terms of a tenancy are fixed by the Tribunal or a rent officer under this Act in the same manner as it has effect where such terms are fixed by the Court under section 12 of that Act and, accordingly, the references in the said section 13 to the opinion of the Court shall be construed as including, as the case may require, references to the opinion of the Tribunal or the opinion of the rent officer.

(3) The reference in section 13 (2) of the Act of 1982 to the means of the tenant shall be taken to refer, and always to have referred, to the actual means of the tenant.

Withdrawal of certain applications under section 12 of Act of 1982.

10. —(1) Where a landlord or tenant has made an application to the Court under section 12 (1) of the Act of 1982 and, at the commencement of section 5 of this Act, the matter has not come on for hearing before the Court, the applicant may, if the other party consents, withdraw the application and may make a new application under this Act to the Tribunal or a housing authority, as the case may be.

(2) Where an application is withdrawn under subsection (1), the notice given by the applicant under section 12 (5) of the Act of 1982 to the other party of his intention to make the application shall, for the purposes of a new application under this Act, be deemed to be a notice duly given to the other party under section 5 (5) of this Act.

Appeals to Tribunal.

11. —(1) A landlord or tenant may, in accordance with regulations under section 15 , appeal to the Tribunal against the determination of a rent officer fixing the terms of a tenancy under section 5 and the Tribunal shall fix the terms of the tenancy.

(2) Where the terms of a tenancy are varied by the Tribunal under subsection (1), the terms as so varied shall be binding on the landlord and the tenant.

(3) Where the rent fixed by a rent officer exceeds the rent fixed by the Tribunal on an appeal under subsection (1), the amount of any excess paid by the tenant—

(a) may be deducted from any rent payable by him to the landlord, or

(b) shall be recoverable by him as a simple contract debt in a court of competent jurisdiction.

(4) The making of an appeal under subsection (1) shall not prevent the registration of a dwelling in accordance with the determination of the rent officer for the purpose of compliance with section 7 (2) (b).

Compensation for loss.

12. —(1) Where the terms of a tenancy are fixed by the Tribunal under this Act, the Tribunal may, on an application to it by either the landlord or the tenant and if it considers it reasonable to do so, order the landlord or the tenant, as the case may be, to pay to the other party an amount not exceeding the difference between the existing rent and the new rent fixed by the Tribunal in respect of—

(a) where an application is withdrawn under section 10 (1) and a new application is made under this Act, the period from the date of the notice referred to in section 10 (2) to the date of the fixing of the terms by the Tribunal, or

(b) where an appeal is made under section 11 (1) against the determination of a rent officer, the period from the date of the determination by the rent officer to the date of the fixing of the terms by the Tribunal.

(2) Any amount ordered by the Tribunal to be paid under subsection (1) shall be paid in such manner and over such period as the Tribunal may direct having regard to all the circumstances of the case.

(3) A decision of the Tribunal under subsection (1) shall be final and conclusive and no appeal shall lie against the decision except to the High Court on a question of law.

Question of Law: appeal, referral to High Court.

13. —(1) A landlord or tenant may appeal to the High Court on a question of law within three months, or such longer period as that Court may allow, after the determination by the Tribunal of the terms of a tenancy under section 5 or on an appeal under section 11 .

(2) The Minister may, at the request of the Tribunal, refer to the High Court a question of law arising on an application or appeal to it under this Act and the Minister may be represented at the hearing.

Disclosure of interest.

14. —(1) Where a member of the Tribunal has a beneficial interest in a dwelling in respect of which an application under section 5 (1) or an appeal under section 11 is made, or has any other interest in the application or appeal which would be likely to influence him in relation to the determination of the terms of the tenancy or the decision on the appeal, as the case may be, the member shall—

(a) disclose to the Tribunal the nature of his interest,

(b) take no part in the discussion on, or consideration of, the application or appeal,

(c) neither vote nor otherwise act as a member of the Tribunal in relation to the determination of the terms of the tenancy or the decision on the appeal, as the case may be.

(2) Where a rent officer has a beneficial interest in a dwelling in respect of which an application under section 5 (1) is made, or has any other interest in the application which would be likely to influence him in determining the terms of the tenancy, he—

(a) shall neither make nor seek to influence the determination of the tenancy, and

(b) shall inform the manager of the housing authority of his interest.

(3) The manager of the housing authority, upon being so informed, shall refer the application to another rent officer of the authority or, if there is no such other officer, to another housing authority for determination by a rent officer of that authority.

(4) Where an officer of the Tribunal has a beneficial interest in a dwelling to which an application or appeal mentioned in subsection (3) relates, or has any other interest in the application or appeal which is material to the outcome thereof, he shall—

(a) neither influence nor seek to influence the determination of the terms of the tenancy of the dwelling or the decision on the appeal, as the case may be, and

(b) disclose to the Tribunal the nature of his interest and comply with any directions the Tribunal may give in relation to the matter.

(5) For the purposes of this section, a person shall be regarded as having a beneficial interest in a dwelling if—

(a) he or his spouse is the landlord or the tenant of the dwelling, or

(b) he or his spouse, or a nominee of either of them, is a member of a company or other body which is the landlord of the dwelling, or

(c) he or his spouse is in partnership with, or in the employment of, a person who is either the landlord or the tenant of the dwelling.

(6) For the purposes of this section, a person shall not be regarded as having a beneficial interest in a dwelling, or an interest in an application or appeal which would be likely to influence him, by reason only of an interest of his, or of a company or any other body mentioned in subsection (5), which is so remote or insignificant that it cannot reasonably be regarded as likely to influence him.

(7) (a) A person who has a beneficial interest in a dwelling and contravenes or fails to comply with a requirement of this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £500.

(b) In any proceedings for an offence under this subsection, it shall be a good defence for the person charged to prove that at the time of the alleged offence he did not know and had no reason to believe that—

(i) he had a beneficial interest in the dwelling, or

(ii) the beneficial interest to which the alleged offence relates was one in relation to which a requirement of this section applied.

(c) Proceedings for an offence under this subsection shall not be initiated save by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

(8) A member of the Tribunal who is convicted of an offence under subsection (7) shall, on such conviction, cease to be a member.

(9) Where a person who has a beneficial interest in a dwelling to which an application or appeal to which this section relates contravenes or fails to comply with a requirement of this section, such contravention or failure shall render invalid the determination of the application or the decision on the appeal, as the case may be.

(10) (a) Where a determination under section 5 (1) by the Tribunal or a rent officer is rendered invalid by virtue of subsection (9), the application to which the determination relates shall again be determined by the Tribunal or a rent officer, as the case may be.

(b) Where a decision by the Tribunal on an appeal under section 11 is rendered invalid by virtue of subsection (9), the appeal shall be again decided by the Tribunal.

(c) For the purposes of this Act—

(i) the date of a new determination under paragraph (a) by the Tribunal or a rent officer shall be taken to be the date of the invalid determination, and

(ii) the date of a new decision under paragraph (b) by the Tribunal shall be taken to be the date of the invalid decision.

(11) If, by reason of a new determination or decision under subsection (10), any amount is owed to a landlord or tenant, such amount may be recovered as a simple contract debt in a court of competent jurisdiction.

Regulations supplementing this Act.

15. —(1) The Minister may by regulations provide for—

(a) subject to subsection (3), the terms and conditions of appointment (including remuneration, if any, and allowances) and the tenure of office of the members of the Tribunal,

(b) the manner in which the Tribunal, housing authorities and rent officers shall perform their functions under this Act, and

(c) the enabling of the Tribunal, housing authorities and rent officers to perform such functions effectively.

(2) Regulations under this section may include provisions relating to all or any of the following matters:

(a) the procedure for making applications under section 5 (1) (a) and appeals under section 11 to the Tribunal, the determination of such applications and appeals (including provisions that they may be determined without recourse to an oral hearing) and the notification of the determinations;

(b) the procedure for making applications to a housing authority under section 5 (1) (b), the determination of such applications (including provisions that they may be determined without recourse to an oral hearing) and the notification of the determinations;

(c) the meetings of the Tribunal and the procedure at such meetings, including provisions that the Tribunal may act by divisions and the conditions under which it may do so;

(d) the charging and payment of fees in respect of applications to the Tribunal and housing authorities;

(e) the furnishing to the Tribunal or a rent officer by an applicant or appellant, as the case may be, of any specified information relating to the application or appeal and the production by the applicant or appellant of evidence to verify any particulars or information given by him;

(f) the engaging of consultants and advisers by a housing authority to assist a rent officer or by the Tribunal;

(g) the making available to the landlord and the tenant concerned of any written submissions to the Tribunal or a rent officer, as the case may be;

(h) the furnishing by a rent officer to the Tribunal of documents or other matter in relation to an appeal from a determination by him;

(i) the circumstances and conditions under which the Tribunal or a rent officer may declare that an application or appeal, as the case may be, shall be regarded as having been abandoned;

(j) where an application or appeal is, in the opinion of the Tribunal or a rent officer, as the case may be, being unnecessarily delayed, the circumstances and conditions under which the application or appeal may be determined or be regarded as having been abandoned;

(k) the award by the Tribunal of costs and expenses and the payment thereof;

(l) the making by the Tribunal of an annual report to the Minister;

(m) the furnishing from time to time by the Tribunal or a housing authority to the Minister of information relating to the performance of their functions under this Act and the furnishing, at any time at the Minister's request, of such information;

(n) the regulating of the finances of, and the keeping and auditing of the accounts of, the Tribunal;

(o) matters ancillary or incidental to any of the foregoing matters.

(3) Regulations relating to the matters specified in subsection (1) (a) shall be made only with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service.

(4) The Public Offices Fees Act, 1879, shall not apply in respect of fees payable by virtue of this Act.

False information.

16. —(1) Any person who, in connection with an application to the Tribunal or a housing authority under section 5 (1) or an appeal to the Tribunal under section 11 , in the course of the determination by the Tribunal or a rent officer of the terms of a tenancy or in the course of the hearing of such appeal, gives any information, either orally or in writing, which he knows to be false or misleading, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £500.

(2) Where an offence under this section which is committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, any person (or any person acting on his behalf) being a director, manager or secretary of such body, that person or the person so acting, as the case may be, shall be guilty of that offence.

Right to enter and inspect dwellings.

17. —(1) A member of the Tribunal, a rent officer or a person authorised for the purpose by the Tribunal or a housing authority may, for the purpose of determining an application or appeal under this Act, at all reasonable times, enter and inspect a dwelling in respect of which an application under section 5 (1) or an appeal under section 11 has been made.

(2) A person who obstructs a member of the Tribunal, a rent officer or a person authorised under subsection (1) entering or carrying out an inspection under that subsection shall be guilty of an offence under section 27 of the Act of 1982.

Application of section 4 of Act of 1982.

18. —Section 4 of the Act of 1982 shall apply to notices and claims under this Act or under regulations made under this Act.

Laying of regulations before Houses of the Oireachtas.

19. —Every regulation made by the Minister under this Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either such House within the next subsequent 21 days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

Grants to housing authorities.

20. —The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, in each financial year make, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, grants to a housing authority to meet the expenses reasonably and necessarily incurred by the authority in the exercise by the authority and by rent officers of the authority of their functions under this Act.

Expenses.

21. —The expenses incurred by the Minister in the administration of this Act shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Short title, collective citation and commencement.

22. —(1) This Act may be cited as the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) (Amendment) Act, 1983.

(2) The Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Act, 1982 , and this Act may be cited together as the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Acts, 1982 and 1983.

(3) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister, by order or orders, may fix either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so fixed for different purposes and different provisions.