Five families moved from council flat complex to hotel due to flooding, says TD

Apartments built 12 years ago among number of blocks in ‘shocking condition’

Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews accused Dublin Council of ‘neglect’ of its tenants because of ongoing problems that have not been addressed. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews accused Dublin Council of ‘neglect’ of its tenants because of ongoing problems that have not been addressed. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

A Dublin City Council flat complex that won a design award when built 12 years ago has rats nesting under balconies and is so frequently flooded that in an incident this week five families from one block had to move to a hotel, a TD has said in the Dáil.

The city centre York Street complex that was developed after the Georgian tenements it replaced were demolished is one of a number of inner city complexes close to Stephen’s Green highlighted in the Dáil over “shocking conditions” including rat infestations, dampness, electric faults and bin storage difficulties.

Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews accused Dublin Council of “neglect” of its tenants because of ongoing problems that have not been addressed.

Mr Andrews said there are persistent flooding issues at York street flats over problems with a boiler but he said tenants cannot shut off the water when it floods because they do not have access to the stopcock.

The flood this week extensively damaged an entire block in the 62-apartment complex and five households had to be accommodated in a hotel.

Raising the issue in the Dáil this week he said “one woman had her flat flooded seven times in the last couple of years”.

They are not old apartments, he said but there are ongoing issues. “Some windows can’t open, some can’t close. There are rats nesting under the balconies” and residents are living in fear.

Speaking on Friday, the Dublin Bay South TD said there are similar problems in a number of nearby complexes including O’Carroll Villas, Glover’s Court, Cuffe Street, Digges Street, Bishop’s Street and Mercer House as well as Oliver Bond flats.

In one case in Bishop’s Street a resident’s car was written off because rats had nested in the vehicle “over a weekend” and chewed through the electrics. He had repeatedly called for the council to set up a pilot scheme “to tackle the extreme rat infestation in the flats”.

“More intense levels of baiting and tackling nests of rats are urgently needed. The council also needs to immediately carry out a repair programme to fix the old drains,” which harbour rats.

‘Chicken and egg’ situation

Mr Andrews claimed the city council acted as “judge and jury” and that unlike private tenants who could complain to the Residential Tenancies Board, council tenants had no options. If a tenant gets someone in for repairs and there is a further problem the council refuses to get involved. Dublin City Council has been contacted for comment.

The TD acknowledged an estimated €36 million in rent arrears owed to the council but said it was a “chicken and egg” situation. Tenants ask why they should pay rent when they are living in such conditions they claim the council refuses to address.

He also claimed the Government had cut its regeneration programme funding, a claim rejected by Minister of State Malcolm Noonan who said it had increased by €4 million to €50 million next year.

Mr Noonan acknowledged however that these living conditions are “unacceptable”. He paid tribute to the residents association in Oliver Bond he had contact with who were “very active” and “we have to make inroads in resolving these issues”.

He said €350 million is provided annually for local authority housing as well as funding for a number of maintenance and improvement programmes. “In all cases, it is local authorities that identify the priorities.”

The Minister added that these complexes “are intrinsic to the city and have huge cultural and heritage significance but should be habitable to modern and current standards”. His department “is committed to ensuring tenants in social housing are provided with adequate housing.

And based on the need “to modernise and bring living conditions up to acceptable levels as part of its climate action plans” the council is developing a long-term strategy to refurbish or redevelop older flat complexes.