by Alan Jacques
THERE is a need for immediate action in improving Limerick City and County Council’s housing stock.
That’s the view of Adare-Rathkeale Fine Gael councillor Tom Neville who says some local authority tenants are living in very poor conditions and is calling for the issue to be prioritised and a realistic solution found.
“There is an extensive list of Council housing tenants with maintenance issues that are on a waiting list for far too long. It has taken over 12 months and more to get the simplest of jobs done,” claimed Cllr Neville.
“It is imperative that jammed windows are fixed as they are a fire hazard. There are a number of tenants who have extremely bad draft conditions such as open vents and non-sealed windows which are rendering their heating useless in this cold weather snap,” he explained.
He is particularly concerned for the infirm, children and the elderly and said he knows of one house with a hole in the kitchen ceiling due to a leak. A number of houses, built decades ago, have problems with damp and mould.
“Limerick City and County Council need to address this problem immediately. There are a number of solutions that can be explored. The Council need to audit the housing stock and document the problems with a view implementing a maintenance program. I would also call on the Council to explore helping tenants fix the simpler maintenance issues such as faulty window and door locks with a rebate given on rent if the tenant chooses to fix themselves,” he said.
Cllr Neville pointed out that a number of the tenants he has spoken with have never been in rent arrears and are conscious that their house is their home and want to look after it.
“These houses must be maintained to a certain standard. The Council must invest in their housing stock to avoid a bigger bill in the future as some of these houses continue to deteriorate. This problem is now a priority and needs to be tackled immediately.”
In response, a Council spokesman explained, “Since 2009, both the Limerick City and County Council have carried out work on over 2,600 houses specifically with regard to retrofitting houses in order to close the gap pertaining to fuel poverty. Works included attic insulation; cavity insulation; dry lining; boiler upgrades; heating control upgrades; draft proofing and installation of CFL bulbs.
“We will be continuing our work on the Energy Efficiency programme and will focus on the specific needs of our tenants and our housing stock within the confines of the scheme. Any houses with particular needs that are brought to our attention by Council members will be examined,” he concluded.