Property Service Regulatory Authority: First Regulatory ActionsJanuary 2020
The evolution of the Property Service Regulatory Authority from its inception now continues to a series of firsts, includes securing its first injunction of an unlicensed operator and its first prohibition of a licensee to trade.
On Monday, 9 December 2019, the High Court granted to the Property Service Regulatory Authority (PSRA) an injunction preventing Ms Walsh of C E Walsh Limited from providing property services without the appropriate licence. The injunction also prevents Ms Walsh, the company director, from holding herself out as being available to provide property services, or from advertising property services in any way. Full details of the PSRA’s press release is available here: http://www.psr.ie/en/PSRA/Pages/Speeches
The Chief Executive of the PSRA, Ms Maeve Hogan said, “the PSRA has zero tolerance for any property services provider trading without a licence and will take all necessary actions, up to and including legal injunctions to ensure unlicensed operators are prevented from trading and providing their clients with no consumer protection.” Clients of licensed service providers benefit from important consumer protections such as a thorough complaints investigation mechanism, obligatory professional indemnity insurance, comprehensive regulations on protecting client funds and a Compensation Fund for those who suffer losses as a result of the dishonesty of a licensee.
The previous month, on Monday, 25 November 2019, the High Court permanently prohibited a former licensee, Mr Breathnach who had traded as Cavan Real Estate Ltd., Dublin Road, Cavan, from reapplying for a property service licence. This is the first occasion that a licensee or a former licensee has been “struck off” the Register of Licensees. The High Court also ordered that Mr Breathnach pay a sum of €50,000 to the Property Services Regulatory Authority and to make an additional payment of €48,492.82 into the Property Services Compensation Fund. The Court gave Mr Breathnach 90 days to make this payment. According to the Irish Times, in court documents, it was stated Mr Breathnach was previously licensed to provide property services but has not held a licence since July 5th, 2017, when his existing licence expired.
After six separate complaints were made against him on dates in February and March 2017, inspectors were appointed by the PSRA to investigate. One complaint, made on behalf of a property management firm, alleged retention of clients’ deposit monies in respect of 18 properties sold in Co Cavan. The five other complaints alleged failure to return five booking deposits
Since its establishment the PSRA has successfully prosecuted rogue operators for unlicensed trading, securing court convictions, fines and costs. Currently, the Authority is prosecuting three cases of unlicensed trading, which are all before the Courts and are expected to be heard over the coming months.
By Judy de Castro - Regulatory Consultant