‘Father Jack Ltd’ among firms given sanctions for breaching rent pressure zones

Just 35 sanctions against landlords in past 12 months

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan says the Residential Tenancies Board needs to be given greater powers. Photo: Collins

Amy Molloy

A company called Father Jack Ltd is among a group of landlords who were sanctioned by a watchdog for breaching rent pressure zones (RPZ) in the past 12 months.

There have been only 35 sanctions against landlords for failing to comply with rent pressure zones, despite hundreds of investigations by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

The RTB has begun 400 probes into alleged improper conduct by landlords since it was given powers to do so in 2019, with 115 of these taking place in the past 12 months.

Of the 400 cases, only 60 (15pc) resulted in sanctions. Details of 38 of the cases have been published by the RTB, with the rest set to be revealed once the relevant appeal periods and administrative processes are completed.

There were 35 sanctions issued for breaching RPZ, one for failing to offer a tenancy back to a tenant when they were obliged to do so, and four landlords were punished for failing to register a tenancy.

Eleven of the sanctions were imposed against one landlord alone.

Propmaster Ventures Limited, with an address at Slaney Road, Dublin Industrial Estate, Dublin 11, was ordered to pay more than €14,000 for hiking rents at residential properties across Dublin.

Brothers Alan and Norman Prendergast, owners of furniture business Bargaintown, are also directors of Propmaster.

Some private landlords received sanctions of between €1,000 and €2,500, while others received less.

Michael J Wright, owner of the Wright Bar Group, was also among the landlords found in breach.

Mr Wright, who owns an apartment in the Raven Hall complex on the Main Street in Swords, was given a monetary sanction of €700 for failing to comply with RPZ requirements.

The two-bedroom apartment is currently advertised for sale for €295,000.

In 2019, Mr Wright and his wife Kim were also found by the RTB to have served an invalid rent increase on a tenant renting a property in Ashton Court, Swords.

The RTB said the notice of termination was also invalid and ordered that the tenant should continue to pay rent of €1,300 a month.

A company called Father Jack Limited, with an address at Brittas in Dublin, received a sanction of €539 for an RPZ breach at a property in Sundale Park, Tallaght.

The company’s business description states it specialises in amusement and recreation activities.

Father Jack Ltd refunded the tenants the extra rent they had been charged. Its current director was not a director when the sanction was incurred.

Fourteen of the landlords were given written cautions and a sanction, while another 14 were given a written warning only. The monetary sanctions amounted to €31,240 in total.

Currently, the RTB’s Investigation Unit cannot investigate cases involving deposit retention or standards and maintenance of properties.

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan said the RTB needs to be given greater powers.

“It’s really not acceptable that a large number of landlords who were found in breach of rental law have got off with a written sanction only,” he said.

“The RTB needs more powers and stronger teeth. My office has dealt with cases where the RTB wouldn’t investigate a serious issue because the tenant didn’t know the landlord’s address. This just isn’t good enough.”

A spokesperson for the RTB said the Covid-19 pandemic “greatly impacted” proceedings.

“The RTB has a pipeline of cases at various stages of the process,” they said.

“It is important to note that the 60 sanctions confirmed to the end of May 2022 do not reflect the number of sanctions applied to date in the investigations process by decision-makers, nor do they provide a representative sample of the quantum or types of sanctions that will be confirmed in due course”.

Michael Wright and Propmaster Ventures were contacted for comment.

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