Bill to level the playing field for tenants – Ward

7th May 2021 - Senator Barry Ward

A Bill to ensure tenants have more equitable rights and bring the Residential Tenancies Board’s tribunals in line with High Court decisions has been introduced to the Oireachtas by a Fine Gael Senator.

Senator Barry Ward introduced the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the Seanad today, which seeks to implement two rulings from the High Court.

“It is entirely inappropriate that the burden of proof would be shifted to the tenant when they rarely have the same resources as the landlord. It is a basic tenet of a tenancy tribunal hearing that the burden of proof would lie on the landlord to prove that they are complying with the legislation.

“The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), which operates tenancy tribunals under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, was recently criticised by the High Court for requiring certain evidential standards of tenants that are inconsistent with the rules of evidence,” Senator Ward said.

“For example, where a landlord seeks to have a tenant leave a property because that property is being sold, the landlord must provide evidence to prove their intent to sell. However, what has been happening in practice is that the RTB has been essentially requiring the tenants to provide the burden of evidence to disprove this.

“When a landlord states that they intend to sell a property, and for that reason needs a tenant to vacate, that statement is not itself proof that the property will be sold or even offered for sale.

“While it is evidence, it is not strong evidence and it should not be taken as such by the Tribunal. This Bill will make it clear that a landlord’s statement is just a statement, and not proof or strong evidence.”

This Bill will level the playing field for tenants who face eviction by unscrupulous landlords, but more importantly will implement recent changes in the law, handed down by the High Court, in relation to this type of hearing.

“It is important that we protect tenants to the greatest extent possible without unduly burdening landlords – which is exactly what this Bill seeks to do,” concluded Senator Ward.

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