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Tenant Aaron Madigan holding the door shut during the eviction last year. Aaron Madigan/The Journal

Eviction notice sent to young couple in Waterford by text message was invalid, RTB rules

The landlord was ordered to pay the tenants €5,250.

TWO TENANTS IN Co Waterford have been told by the Residential Tenancies Board that the eviction carried out by their landlord last September was unlawful as the notice of termination, which was sent by text message, was invalid.

The landlord must now pay the tenants damages of €5,250 as a result of the illegal eviction within 10 days, the RTB has ruled. 

Aaron Madigan and his fiancée Grace Long, who were evicted from their rented accommodation last September, have also filed a complaint to Garda watchdog body GSOC over the behaviour of gardaí who arrived at the residence during the incident.

A representative of Madigan and Long’s landlord sent them a text, informing them of a notice to vacate the property, one month ahead of the eviction date. 

Madigan told The Journal last year that his landlord had asked him to sign a licence agreement – which is commonly used in rent-a-room schemes.

Under this arrangement, the homeowner is not lawfully required to register as a landlord as it is understood that the tenant will be living with the homeowner. 

However, Madigan claims that he and his fiancée were the sole occupants of the one-bedroom property for the entire duration of their six-month stay.

According to Madigan, he never met the landlord at any point while he rented the property from him, and was told by the landlord’s son-in-law – who was the only person he dealt with – that the landlord lived abroad.

He said that Threshold and tenants’ union CATU had advised him that because he and his finacée were the sole occupants of the property, they were able to avail of the same rights as a normal tenant.

According to the Residential Tenancies Board’s website, notice periods must be in writing, signed by the landlord or agent, and must specify the date on which they were posted or hand-delivered to the tenant.

Landlords must also send a copy of the notice to the RTB on the same day they provide it to the tenant. Additionally, notice periods must last at least 90 days or more.

Madigan filed an objection to the eviction with the RTB and at a hearing on Monday the body found that the eviction notice sent to Madigan and Long through an SMS text message was invalid under Section 62 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

The board also found that the landlord was in violation of Section 12 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 as he was “in breach of his obligations in interfering with the peaceful and exclusive occupation of the dwelling by the tenants”.

The board said the mooted licence agreement did “not reflect the reality of the living arrangements and it amounted to a tenancy within meaning of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004″.

Speaking to The Journal Madigan said that while €5,000 won’t buy them a new home, they hope it will deter landlords from taking a similar approach. 

“If you’re privately renting and the landlord doesn’t live in the house with you, it likely is a tenancy agreement no matter what the landlord wants to call it,” he added.

The tenants and CATU have also confirmed that they have filed a complaint with the An Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) over the behaviour of gardaí who attended the eviction.

It is understood the complaint has been acknowledged by GSOC. A spokesperson for the Ombudsman said they could not comment on any individual cases at this stage.

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