New rental regulations shortsighted, landlords say

Department of Housing has given no guidance documents on operation of standards

In many cases, landlords could not afford to comply with the regulations and either left units vacant or sold the property. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

In many cases, landlords could not afford to comply with the regulations and either left units vacant or sold the property. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

 

Landlords have claimed new rental standards regulations are shortsighted, contradictory, and could lead to the loss of homes from the rental sector.

“One of the main issues with the new standards is that most landlord don’t know about them,” Fintan McNamara, director of the Residential Landlords’ Association of Ireland, said. “No guidance documents have been issued by the Department of Housing, and it’s unclear how many of the regulations will operate.”

The requirement for window restrictors was a particular concern, he said. “There is a very real concern that the use of these restrictors would contravene fire regulations, but it’s hard to know because we don’t have clear information.”

The crackdown on the remaining bedsits was an unnecessary blow to the small number of homes still available at the lower end of the market, he said.

“There are very few flats left where the bathroom would not be self-contained, but there have been situations where tenants have begged landlords to be allowed to stay in what are perfectly comfortable homes.”

In many cases, landlords could not afford to comply with the regulations and either left units vacant or sold the property.

“Landlords face spending €25,000-€30,000 to make these units compliant. Instead they sell and the houses are generally converted back to family homes, with a resulting loss in housing supply. It’s extremely shortsighted.”

Bathroom heating

Dick Hogan, a Dublin landlord, said requirements for bathroom heating seemed particularly unnecessary. “This applies even where you just have a shower cubicle. It would not be normal to have a radiator in such a small spaces and it would be very expensive to fit and plumb that in – you’re talking more than €1,000 per unit.”

Window restrictors were also a difficulty for owners of older buildings, he said.

“These are generally listed buildings with sash windows and your only option is to install a cage outside the window, which is aesthetically outrageous.”

Colm Smyth, who leads Dublin City Council’s inspections of rental accommodation, said some of the revisions, which may seem minor, would substantially assist the council in its work.

“The Rats and Mice Destruction Act 1919 is still an applicable piece of legislation in Ireland. It puts an onus on the occupier to maintain it free of mice and rats. The difficulty in this is the occupier can be very transient. We may not know who the occupier is but we do know who the landlord is.”

Switching pest control responsibility to landlords was “a very welcome thing”, he said.