Tenant trouble legal action moves to the District Court
Since February 26, 2018, enforcement of Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) Determination Orders has moved from the Circuit Court to the District Court.
The reasoning is that there are many more District Courts, which sit more regularly than Circuit Courts, providing quicker access to the courts at significantly reduced cost.
If there is a dispute between a landlord and tenant in respect of a tenancy agreement, a dispute application can be lodged with the Residential Tenancies Board for an adjudication. Adjudication is a formal and confidential process whereby an appointed adjudicator makes a decision based on the evidence presented by both parties.
The decision of the adjudicator will be binding on the parties, and leads to a Determination Order, which gives the outcome of the case and sets out terms that are to be complied with and a timeframe for this compliance. For example, a Termination Order might say that a tenant must pay rent arrears for a fixed period, or the tenant must vacate the property by a certain date, or the landlord may be required to carry out maintenance or repair works on the property within a certain period.
If the terms of a Determination Order are not complied with, options are as follows: You can make an application to the Residential Tenancies Board for them to take enforcement in the courts on your behalf;
You can take your own enforcement proceedings in the court.
In the event that you are bringing your own enforcement proceedings, it is advisable that you instruct a solicitor.
If the Determination Order has not been complied with within the required timeframe, the first step would potentially be to issue a pre- proceedings lett to the respondents stating that the Determination Order has not been complied with, and that you intend to make an application to the District Court to obtain an Order of the Court requiring the respondent to comply with the Determination Order, if the Determination Order is not complied with in a cert n period (normally seven to 21 days). If the respondent fails to comply with the terms of the Determination Order, an application for enforcement can be taken to the District Court.
The papers for the application will normally comprise of a Notice of Application and a Ground Affidavit from the landlord or tenant. You would also be required to prove that the party who the Determination Order is being sought against has been correctly served in respect of the enforcement proceedings. The key document is the Grounding Affidavit which will be the basis for your application.
You would need to set out the facts relied upon in the case including the details of the background to the dispute, the Determination made and confirmation that the Determination Order was not complied with.
It is advisable in respect of the affidavit that you exhibit any relevant documentation including any relevant documents such as the Adjudication Report, a copy of the Determination Order, and any relevant correspondence with the other party.
When all the appropriate paperwork is lodged in the District Court, they will provide you with a return date. On the return date, the District Court judge will either hear the application or will give further directions as to how the case will proceed. On the day of the hearing, you, your solicitor, or possibly a barrister, must present your case to the judge and explain the relief you are seeking. The judge will then consider the affidavits, which will be the Grounding Affidavit and possible a Replying Affidavit from the respondent, and the judge may ask the parties to make submissions. The judge may ask the parties questions in respect of the content on the affidavits.
If the judge believes that further information is required, he may adjourn the case to a later date, in certain circumstances.
If the court is satisfied that proofs and evidence are in order, and that the respondent has been properly served, the judge may make an order enforcing the terms of the Determination Order in favour of the applicant.
If the applicant is successful, the court may make an order in yo fa ur in relation to costs of taking the proceedings.
After the hearing you will need to request the order from the District Court Office, and it will then need to be served on the respondent.
In respect of this, it is advisable that you arrange personal service.
If you have a Determination Order which is not being complied with, we would recommend that you consult with a solicitor, and they will talk you through the steps of how this can be enforced.