MLRC successfully represented a client in RTB Tribunal proceedings in having the notice of termination of her tenancy determined as invalid. Our client was a long-standing social housing tenant, who would have faced homelessness had the matter not been determined in her favour. She is hugely relieved at the positive outcome.
The client had been a tenant of Dublin City Council for 25 years before transferring to an Approved Housing Body (AHB) tenancy due to overcrowding. Within the first six months of her new AHB tenancy she received a notice of termination. At the time the notice was served the tenancy did not have the protections offered under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to Part 4 tenancies. As such, the AHB were not obliged to give the client any reason as to why they were seeking to terminate the tenancy.
This is an issue that MLRC has seen on a number of occasions. The lack of protection afforded to these social housing tenants in their first six months of an AHB tenancy is of concern for MLRC. In this case we represented the client in an RTB Tribunal after appealing an RTB Adjudication decision to uphold the notice of termination as valid.
At the RTB Tribunal hearing MLRC argued that the notice of termination without giving reasons was disproportionate and amounted to a breach of the client’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, particularly with regards to her right to respect for private and family life. Arguments were made that the AHB was acting as an organ of the State within the meaning of the Convention; performing a public act in providing housing which otherwise would have been provided by the State.
It is of note that the AHB did not attend the RTB Tribunal hearing and so did not contest the oral evidence given by our client. The Tribunal, did however, give due consideration to the AHB’s written submissions. In our client’s oral evidence, she stated that she believed that at the signing of her tenancy that there would be a six-year agreement signed after the first six months and that if she was happy with her tenancy that she could then stay in her new property as long as she wished. The RTB Tribunal were satisfied on the basis of the evidence furnished that there was an implied term in the tenancy of the dwelling that in the absence of a breach of the client’s obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 2014 the dwelling would be her home as long as she was happy there. The RTB Tribunal noted that the client did not receive any written warnings before she was served with the notice of termination and that there was no evidence of any breach of the client’s obligations under the tenancy offered to the Tribunal.
While the RTB Tribunal did not give much by way of comment in the determination on the possible infringement of our client’s Convention rights, of relevance to the Tribunal was how the AHB communicated the terms of the tenancy to our client upon signing and how they engaged in an internal dispute resolution process prior to issuing the notice of termination. It is encouraging that the RTB Tribunal held that the notice of termination was invalid and great credit should be given to our client for her compelling testimony.
The AHB did not appeal the decision to the High Court on a point of law and our client remains living in her tenancy. The client was pleased with this outcome and was relieved that a period of great uncertainty around her housing has now reached a conclusion.
MLRC will continue to make arguments in the RTB and in the High Court surrounding proportionality of such notices of termination as served and the impact and potential infringement on an individual’s Convention rights.