Irish rental homes could face ‘NCT-style’ inspections

Government considering new unit to enforce minimum housing standards, report claims

Irish landlords could face NCT-style inspections of their properties to ensure homes are in a suitable condition for tenants, according to a new report. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Irish landlords could face NCT-style inspections of their properties to ensure homes are in a suitable condition for tenants, according to a new report. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Irish landlords could face NCT-style inspections of their properties to ensure homes are in a suitable condition for tenants, according to a report in the Irish Examiner on Monday.

A dedicated national inspection unit that would replace the current mix of council workers, HSE staff and private contractors responsible for carrying out checks is also under consideration, according to the report.

Figures from the Irish Examiner found that of the 285,025 private tenancies registered in 2014, only 13,913 dwellings underwent routine inspections.

It found half of the properties breached minimum standards, with damp, mould and fire safety issues the main violations.

Stephen Large from the national housing charity Threshold told the paper that his organisation received a large number of queries regarding housing standards and repairs.

Patrick Bresnihan from the Dublin Tenants Association said many landlords had failed to invest in upgrading their properties since the recession.

Inspections by local authorities to enforce statutory minimum standards on private rented accommodation vary widely.

By law, councils are the first port of call for private tenants with complaints about standards.

However, Mr Bresnihan warned that, given the uncertainty of the current housing market, tenants are scared to complain about the conditions of their private rented accommodation.

Mr Large called for an independent body to carry out inspections and said he would welcome an overhaul of the current system.

Both the Department of the Environment and the National Oversight and Audit Commission are carrying out reviews of the current system.

They told the Irish Examiner that they were considering different options for improving the standards of rental accommodation.

Crackdown

A Dublin City Council crackdown on low-quality rented accommodation reported in March that almost 90 per cent of the apartments inspected failed to meet minimum housing standards.

The council said that, of the more than 6,360 flats inspected from 2012 to 2015 in an effort to root out slum conditions in the city’s private rented sector, some 5,685 failed to meet basic living standards.

Half of all the apartments inspected failed to meet housing standards because of fire safety problems, including exposed live wiring in bathrooms, scorched wall sockets and broken fire and smoke alarms.

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry also warned on Monday that the homeless situation in Dublin is deteriorating, with eight people becoming homeless every day this year.

Fr McVerry told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme that Government efforts had failed to stabilise the homeless situation and that there was a “dire shortage” of emergency accommodation available.

Ireland is still the 15th wealthiest country in the world yet we still have people who don’t have a roof over their head,” said Fr McVerry.

“It is scandalous. Sadly it has become the new normal.”