The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has apologised to landlords and letting agents for any inconvenience caused during the introduction of a new software system for registering tenancies over recent months.
However, the board has said it is confident that the system is fit for purpose and will accommodate the significant uplift in activity that annual registration requirements will introduce.
It follows complaints from rental property owners and their agents about ongoing challenges they are facing when interacting with the system, which went live in November 2021.
Landlords and agents say they have had problems registering themselves on the site, transferring or linking existing tenancy registrations from the old system to the new.
They now face the threat of late registration fees from August, despite the difficulties they are facing.
They have also complained about technical issues with the new portal and the standard of customer service being offered by the RTB, with reports of delays in getting phone, web chat and email queries answered.
"There have been an awful lot of complaints about it," said Margaret McCormick, Information Officer with the Irish Property Owners' Association (IPOA).
"It has been massively difficult, with quite a number of difficulties," she added,
The IPOA wrote to the RTB recently to register a complaint on behalf of its members about the issues and subsequently met with board to outline its concerns.
The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) said its members have also experienced significant problems with the new systems.
It said it has set up a working group with the RTB to try to have concerns addressed and some progress has been made.
The challenges have been compounded by the introduction on April 4 of a new requirement for landlords to register tenancies annually, within one month of the anniversary of when it began.
From August 4, any tenancy that is not registered within that timeframe will be hit with a fine of €10 for every month it remains unregistered.
Ms McCormick said those fines should be suspended until such times as the challenges with the new system have been ironed out.
"We need the teething problems dealt with," she said.
In a lengthy statement in response to a series of questions submitted by RTÉ News, the RTB said it is fully aware that some customers are experiencing issues with the new tenancy management system.
"We appreciate that change and transition can be difficult, and we are committed to working collaboratively and constructively with landlords and letting agents who are using the new registration system," it said.
It claimed the new system is designed to bring greater robustness to the verification of tenancy data and the integrity of that data and is a considerable step forward from the old system.
The RTB added that further updates of the system, built by an external provider at a cost to date of €7.3m, that will address particular issues being experienced by customers are planned.
The board said it is experiencing a high volume of communications from customers because of the extra one-off account verification steps required to ensure it does not have multiple accounts for one individual.
It said the verification process is working but customers are presenting information that does not match information held by the Department of Social Protection.
"RTB is addressing current staff turnover issues with our customer service provider and we are actively bringing on new staff onto the account - we are confident we will see improvements in this area over June," it said.
It has also created additional online resources to help landlords through the new processes and has set up a data linking service to assist customers with the connecting of tenancies that are on the old system with the new one.
It added that it will continue to override late fees or refund fees, should they be incurred due to technical issues or difficulties making contact with the RTB.
But IPAV agreed with the IPOA that the introduction of fines for late registrations needs to be delayed until at least January of next year.
The CEO of IPAV, Pat Davitt, said if that did not happen agents would be hit with the penalties incurred through no fault of their own and they will not be able to pass them on to their landlord clients.
In February the Comptroller and Auditor General told the Oireachtas Committee on Public Accounts that the original budget for the project was €3.2m.
Confirming the cost had now more than doubled to €7.3m, the RTB said that figure includes the additional costs arising from subsequent legislative changes and necessary security reviews following the HSE cyberattack.
But it does not include all planned functionality which was originally intended to be included within the original contract price, it added.