The director and assistant director of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) have apologised for the mishandling of a case in which a bank is seeking to repossess a house but where the householders lodged an appeal and money was taken from their account, only for the RTB to rule that the bank could proceed.
At a previous court sitting, Denis Collins BL, for AMOSS Solicitors which acts for Bank of Scotland, sought the enforcement of a initial termination notice that had been served on the tenants of a property, who in turn had referred the matter to the RTB.
The RTB then issued an adjudication report with regard to a property, and the solicitors for the tenants claim they then appealed, but then heard nothing more.
The court heard a determination order was then issued from the RTB, apparently on the basis that no appeal was lodged.
Colette McCarthy, who is solicitor for the family in the house, said they had lodged an appeal with the RTB over the initial termination order, and that bank records showed the RTB had withdrawn the associated fee.
However, they never heard whether the appeal had been entertained by the RTB.
They received no subsequent correspondence in relation to it, and the barrister for the other side said they had received no record of an appeal having been granted or heard by the RTB.
The case had come before Skibbereen District Court on a number of occasions after Ms McCarthy raised the strenuous efforts by her office and by her clients to get clarity on the situation from the RTB, and how some of that correspondence had gone unanswered.
It had led Judge James McNulty to request the attendance of senior personnel from the RTB.
The judge wanted the officials to explain how the situation had occurred, as he said the court had been placed in a position where it could have made an unsafe order on the basis of an appeal that could or should have been heard, but was not.
The court heard this week that a number of affidavits had now been furnished in relation to the case.
Counsel for the RTB, Eoghan Cole, admitted that the tenants had made reasonable efforts in relation to their appeal application.
He said an appeal could now be convened in the case this September.
In one of the affidavits, RTB assistant director Janette Fogarty said the board “fell short of the standards expected of it” in discharging its functions and apologised to Ms McCarthy and her clients.
In the witness box, the director of the RTB, Rosalind Carroll, reiterated that apology.
“I absolutely accept responsibility for that,” she said.
Ms Carroll said RTB procedures had since changed in light of what happened in the case.
However, she said: “I do want to be clear that we did not receive a valid appeal within the timeframe.”
The court had heard that while the appeal fee had been deducted from the tenants’ account, it was not repaid until last June, almost a year later.
Judge McNulty said he would read all the affidavits and that the matter would be back before the court on October 8.