New laws on bedsits in force

Threshold chairwoman Senator Aideen Hayden and director Bob Jordan. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien.

Threshold chairwoman Senator Aideen Hayden and director Bob Jordan. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien.

Fri, Feb 1, 2013, 00:00

New laws coming into force today will remove the most substandard bedsit accommodation from the rental market, a housing charity said.

The standards that private rented property must meet are laid out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Housing) Regulations 2008 and 2009.

All the provisions applied to new tenancies in properties let for the first time since February 1st 2009. But existing tenancies will be required to comply with all provisions from today.

Housing charity Threshold said the provisions would see the end of traditional bedsit accommodation and improve requirements for private rented accommodation.

Chief executive Bob Jordan said the regulations would serve to remove the "bottom layer" or the most substandard accommodation in the country. He acknowledged they had involved a cost for landlords but said the new rules had been flagged four years ago and that people had been given time to comply.

The main concern was that local authorities would carry out inspections to make sure people were not living in substandard conditions. Some of the most vulnerable people in the country were living in bedsits which provided very basic accommodation with no shower or bathroom and with no central heating, Mr Jordan said. "This accommodation does not comply with modern standards."

Threshold expected that where landlords were found not to be in compliance with regulations, that the relevant local authority would take enforcement action and bring them to court if necessary.

The properties concerned are mainly so-called 'pre-63' period properties, built before 1963 planning legislation came into effect. Mr Jordan said it was now almost 50 years to the day since that planning legislation had been introduced. "It is time these properties were brought into the modern era," he said.

The number of these properties has declined from about 9,000 in 2006 to about 5,000 in 2011.

Groups such as the Irish Property Owners' Association oppose the new regulations and say many landlords cannot afford to renovate their properties or access loans to upgrade them.

The association believes the new measures will result in properties being closed down, resulting in significant numbers of people being placed at risk of homelessness. It has called on the Government to retain this type of accommodation which it says is "useful, necessary, affordable and centrally located".

Advice on tenancy issues, including on how to make complaints and how to terminate a tenancy, is available at threshold.ie

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