Residents are paying unnecessary management bills, TD says

Social Democrat Catherine Murphy wants change to law on multi-unit developments

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy TD outside the Dáil. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Sloppy planning and construction legislation has resulted in unnecessary bills for management companies for many residents in multi-unit developments, the Dáil has heard.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy wants a change to the law so that management companies on housing estates will only apply to apartment complexes and not to houses, as originally envisioned by the Multi-Unit Development Act.

She said that thousands of people were paying for management companies when they should not be.

The Kildare North TD said the Act was being misinterpreted.


She said that “some of these developments should not have management companies” but they were being included in planning applications.

She said that the Act was meant for developments of apartments, developments where there were shared internal spaces such as lifts or common areas that had to be maintained, or developments of units with apartments above retail areas.

Ms Murphy said she had highlighted the issue years ago, and brought evidence to the Government shortly after the passage of the Multi-Unit Development Act, but nothing had been done.

She told the Dáil: “I know of people who are charged for lifts in buildings where there are no lifts.”

Appealing to Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English to accept her Multi-Unit Development (Amendment) Bill, Ms Murphy said she did not care whose name went on the Bill.

“What I care about is that people turn up at a solicitor’s office, having struggled to get a large deposit together, and are then told they cannot have the keys of their house until they sign up to the management company.”

Bill rejected

Howevr, Mr English rejected the Bill but said he would discuss it with the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and see if they could accommodate the change she was seeking.

He said the Bill would discard legal protections to residential unit owners in mixed developments and create a legal vacuum.

He said that residents would be unable to sell their properties as a result.

Independent TD Clare Daly said that the Act "has not provided the protection we thought it would and has not solved the problem of the mushrooming of management companies in the early 2000s".

AAA-PBP TD Ruth Coppinger said that in a Tyrellstown estate there are eight management companies.

In seven of them, the developer of the estate was the director, as were his sons and other family members.

"They were divided up like Africa after the colonial wars, by way of straight lines."

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Dessie Ellis said that as a group tenants were voiceless and that the Cabinet and Government benches "include few if any tenants".

He said that tenants were “outnumbered by homeowners, landlords and developers” in the Dáil.

Independent TD John Halligan said he was tired of the Government's approach in opposing legislation simply because it came from the Opposition.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times