Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said in the Dáil that separate legislation would be needed for a repair scheme for up to 100,000 apartments with building defects, which he said would be in place for five to 10 years.
He told Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin that he brought a memo to Government on budget day and will bring forward options before the end of the year, on an interim and long-term basis.
He said the legislation would be necessary because they needed a “robust scheme” to deal with this issue that will take up to a decade.
The Minister acknowledged that some people had already carried out repairs and he would look at options in the interim.
Mr Ó Broin said tens of thousands of homeowners and tenants affected by Celtic Tiger-era defects needed these issues addressed quickly and some homeowners faced immediate repair costs of €70,000.
He said the terms of the pyrite remediation scheme should be changed to offer quicker redress for apartment owners, otherwise they could have to wait up to a decade.
The Minister said he did not believe the pyrite remediation scheme “would be a sound footing to set up a significant piece of work like this”.
He said the Construction Defects Alliance had also expressed concern about “trying to shoehorn this scheme” into the pyrite defects operation. “We need stand-alone legislation,” he said.
Meanwhile, a letter from the Minister to the Construction Defects Alliance (CDA) group said an interdepartmental and agency group is to be set up to bring proposals forward to the Government about how to address defects in apartments by the end of this year.
The letter, sent to the group on Tuesday, outlined a series of short-term actions the Government has decided upon in relation to apartment defects. Most of them are on foot of requests from the group over the past year.
The group had sought retrospective tax credits as a means to ensure that fire safety works on defective apartments would continue in 2022 and 2023.
Such tax credits were not announced in Tuesday’s budget package, which could cause fire safety works on thousands of apartments to stall until there is clarity.
The “unnecessary risk to the health and safety of residents in apartments with fire safety defects” which was identified in the Working Group on Defective Homes report in July would “now become real” as a result, a statement by the CDA said.
Insurance cover may also be withdrawn on many developments meaning owners can’t sell or re-let and will have no recourse if there is fire or other damage to their apartments, and the “stress and anxiety levels for apartment owners will massively increase”, the CDA said.
Spokesman for the alliance Pat Montague said this “limbo” scenario required the Minister for Housing to take certain mitigating measures, such as clarity before the end of 2022 so that owners can plan ahead.
In his letter to the Alliance, the Minister implied the Government would make its decision on a remediation support scheme before the end of 2022.
Mr O’Brien there would be a new revenue stream of €80 million per year via a levy on construction products established in Budget 2023 to help fund any future remediation commitments.
The CDA said €80 million per year would “not be enough for what is required but would be a help particularly in progressing retrospection in 2023.”
“We will also be looking to explore how the levy announced in the Budget can be expanded so that the construction sector makes a contribution that is more fitting,” the CDA said.
The CDA would be requesting an “urgent meeting with the Minister to clarify more precisely what is intended by the measures in his package”.
“The ongoing lack of clarity on retrospection is disappointing and is deeply problematic so we will be redoubling our efforts in the coming period to sort this issue out”.