AT LEAST a third of rented properties in Irish cities are failing to pass basic safety and quality inspections carried out by local authorities for the Department of the Environment.
There are up to 19,000 residential properties available to rent in Ireland, according to Daft.ie’s property report and rents have fallen by almost 25% since their peak in early 2008.
In Dublin city, 42% of rented accommodation failed its quality inspection. A total of 2,576 houses were inspected and 1,061 failed to meet regulations.
In Cork city, over a third of houses inspected failed to pass the test – 671 privately rented houses were visited.
A city council spokesman said a lack of ventilation was the main defect.
In Limerick city, a third of houses failed to meet Department of Environment regulations. The bulk of these failings, such as lack of fire blankets and emergency evacuation plan, were rectified by landlords on foot of an improvement notice but 8% of the failings were deemed serious and requiring a lot of structural work.
537 houses were inspected last year in Limerick city. Inspections followed complaints from the public and random inspection of those on the local authority data- base. A total of 12 properties were removed from the rent supplement scheme last year due to bad quality housing.
In the area of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, 38% of rented accommodation failed to meet the standards last year.
Up to 925 houses were inspected and 352 failed the test. Of those who failed, 22% of them rectified the problems without improvement notices while 149 had notices served and then complied. A further 20% of landlords whose properties were substandard are still being followed up.
According to a spokesman for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, lack of smoke alarms, fire blankets and inadequate ventilation were easily resolved but structural faults and dampness were more serious.
According to the Department of the Environment, when a landlord’s house fails inspection, a repairs letter is issued with a timeframe for compliance. If the dwelling still fails to comply after the expiration of the timeframe given, the council can initiate legal proceedings.
In the Fingal area, privately-rented properties are of a high standard, as the vast majority are new build properties. The council inspected 380 properties and over 95% passed inspection.
"Of the properties that failed the inspection, the vast majority failed due to non-provision of rent books. A small minority failed due to non-provision of appropriate fire equipment as set down under new regulations," a spokesman said.
The director of housing organisation Threshold, Bob Jordan, said standards introduced in 2008 are making a difference: "It does appear standards have improved hugely. We must also remember a quarter of the private rental stock was built since 2000. That all helps."
This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, March 01, 2010