Limerick politicians shocked at ‘sordid rental underground’

RTE investigates still
A still from the RTÉ Investigates programme 'Nightmare to Let' .

LABOUR Party Housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan has expressed her shock at the appalling conditions of a number of rental properties revealed by the ‘RTÉ Investigates’ television programme.

And Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Niall Collins says it shows that the return of slum-type accommodation in our cities and large towns is even more likely unless the Government invests more in inspection of private rental units. 

Deputy O’Sullivan questioned whether there is scope for a criminal investigation into the matter if peoples’ lives were recklessly endangered due to fire safety breaches.

“This programme appears to have exposed a sordid and exploitative underground black market in the rental sector that needs to be stamped out.

“I am appalled at the reports of sub-standard living conditions with inadequate facilities that clearly present a major fire hazard. There is also a real question as to whether a criminal investigation might be required, if peoples’ lives were recklessly endangered by fire safety breaches.

“There appears to have been a total breakdown in regulatory standards in some places. Government needs to ensure local authorities have the adequate resources to inspect all rental properties and ensure they are compliant with regulations.

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“There also needs to be increased information sharing between the local authorities and PTRB regarding the registration of rental properties. A zero tolerance approach to these types of squalid conditions in the rental sector is required,” she declared.

Deputy Collins said he was shocked by what he saw.

“In many cases, vulnerable people were being abused by unscrupulous landlords whose sole focus was on maximising profit. In 2017, people should not be living in overcrowded, sub-standard accommodation. 

“Until the State invests in inspection services by local authorities, this crisis will continue unabated. We know that just one in 20 private rental units are being investigated, and more than 55 per cent of inspections are resulting in failure, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.

“The Government needs to fund this important work at local authority level. It cannot continue to turn a blind up to potentially unsafe and inadequate private rental properties,” he concluded.