Administrative Fines
Interpretation Guideline 16

Interpretation Guidelines are intended to assist the parties in understanding the Board's usual interpretation of the law, to provide guidance to Members and promote consistency in decision-making. However, a Member is not required to follow a Guideline and may make a different decision depending on the facts of the case.

Purpose of a fine

An administrative fine is a remedy to be used by the Board to encourage compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the "RTA"), and to deter landlords from engaging in similar activity in the future. This remedy is not normally imposed unless a landlord has shown a blatant disregard for the RTA and other remedies will not provide adequate deterrence and compliance. Administrative fines and rent abatements serve different purposes. Unlike a fine, a rent abatement is intended to compensate a tenant for a contravention of a tenant's rights or a breach of the landlord's obligations.

An administrative fine should not be confused with costs. Administrative fines are payable to the Minister of Finance and not to a party. Costs may be ordered where a party's conduct in the proceeding before the Board was unreasonable and may be ordered payable to a party or to the Board. See Guideline 3, Costs, for details.

When can a fine be levied

A fine may be ordered in relation to the activities set out under:

The Board's authority to order an administrative fine in these circumstances is set out in the RTA under section 31(1)(d), 41(6), 57(3) paragraph 3, and 115(3) respectively.

Notice of fine

Where a tenant requests a fine in an application, this will serve as notice to the landlord that a fine may be ordered. A Member may however, after hearing the evidence, consider ordering a fine even though it has not been requested. In either situation, the Member must give the parties an opportunity to make submissions on the issue.

Ordering a fine

A Member may impose a conditional fine in an interim order to encourage compliance with the RTA. For example, a Member may order a fine for each day that the landlord fails to comply with a term or condition in the interim order, such as putting an illegally evicted tenant back into possession. The interim order should state precisely what the landlord is required to do and the consequences of failing to comply. The total amount of the fine, if any, should be set out in the final order based on the relevant circumstances as discussed at the hearing.

Where a landlord has committed several breaches, the Member need not order a separate fine for each breach. Rather, the Member may order one fine based on the overall pattern of activities alleged in the application.

In setting the amount of the fine, the Member may consider:

The amount of the fine should be commensurate with the breach.

Failure to pay a fine

Under section 196 of the RTA, where the Board receives information that an applicant owes money to the Board as a result of failing to pay any fine, fee or costs, the Board may, pursuant to its Rules:

See Rule 6, Refusal to Accept or Continue to Process an Application, for details.

December 15, 2018