19/01/2016

Tenant And Landlord Mediation Free Under New Bill

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly, has announced the commencement of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015.

The new Act provides for free mediation services by the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) – an independent body established under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.

A party referring a dispute to the PRTB may choose to have their dispute resolved by either mediation or adjudication. The PRTB received a total of 3,910 applications for dispute resolution in 2015.

Currently a fee of €25 is charged to applicants when applying to have their dispute resolved by the PRTB and the fee is €15 where the application is made online. The new provisions introduced in the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 provide that the PRTB may not charge a fee where a party chooses to have their dispute resolved by mediation. The PRTB may continue to charge a fee for resolving disputes by adjudication but the resolution of a dispute by mediation will be free of charge.

"Mediation saves time and money for landlords and tenants alike. It is respectful, non-adversarial and highly successful in achieving mutually agreeable resolutions to disputes," Minister Kelly said.

"The introduction of these provisions builds on the rent stability measures already introduced by me in December, by giving tenants free access to a key dispute resolution process. It will encourage parties to refer their case to mediation rather than the more adversarial option of adjudication."

The mediation process provides parties in dispute the opportunity to avail of the assistance of a trained mediator who assists both parties in reaching an agreement without the need for the parties to attend a hearing or engage directly with each other. Mediation is fast, convenient and the terms of the agreements are legally binding and enforceable. The PRTB also offers a telephone mediation service as a convenient way to address disputes quickly and effectively.

Minister Coffey added: "The telephone mediation service introduced by the PRTB in late 2013 has been a major success. Processing times for telephone mediation cases were typically 10 to 12 weeks during 2014 and improved further to 6 to 9 weeks in 2015."

(MH/LM)

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