OF 1,407 inspections of rented properties in Limerick carried out by Limerick City and County Council last year, not one was fully compliant with regulations.
And former housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan said this represents “the tip of the iceberg,” a statement confirmed by a spokesman for the council, who said that the number of inspections carried out equates to just 7 per cent of the total private rental stock in the local authority’s jurisdiction.
The majority of inspections that took place were in the city and suburbs, which is the location of the majority of privately owned rental stock.
The spokesman said that the premises would have been ruled non-compliant “for a variety of reasons.
“The vast majority of non-compliance issues were resolved promptly to the satisfaction of the local authority, the landlord and the tenant,” he said.
He could not provide figures on how many of the non-compliant premises had been reinspected or what number passed on re-inspection.
“Limerick City and County Council has a statutory duty to enforce rental property standards while at the same time working with landlords to ensure tenancies are sustained,” he said.
The information was obtained by the Limerick Post in the wake of an RTÉ Investigates programme which revealed shocking and dangerous conditions in the rental sector in various parts of the country, with some premises being overcrowded to the point of 60 tenants sharing a let.
Deputy O’Sullivan spoke in the Dáil earlier this week in support of a call for an NCT-style inspection of rented accommodation. This would simplify matters as landlords would have to tick the boxes on certain issues such as fire safety before they could get a licence. Then inspectors would only have to ask for the licence rather than carry out a full inspection of the premises,” she said.
But she added that the “landlords who are operating underground must be rooted out and there should be significant and even criminal sanctions for people who rent dangerous accommodation”.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Limerick TD Niall Collins said he was “shocked by what I saw in that programme. In many cases, vulnerable people are being abused by unscrupulous landlords whose sole focus is maximising profit”.
Speaking in the Dáil during the Sinn Féin motion on private rental sector accommodation, Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said it was important to show the Dáil is taking note of the disgraceful behaviour of some landlords.
“The lack of resources provided to local authorities has resulted in a lack of inspections and as a consequence the total disregard of standards in the private rental sector.
“Real action needs to be taken by this government on this problem. We are calling for an NCT type system for private rented housing to further strengthen compliance with legal standards, as suggested by Threshold, the housing charity”, Deputy Quinlivan stated.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Threshold said that they are “delighted to see that the NCT concept has been generally accepted because we believe it’s critical to changing the entire ethos of compliance within the sector.
“However, we are asking the Minister to reconsider the issue of self-certification. It has not worked in the past and Priory Hall is a case in point. If we can’t self-certify a motor vehicle, then how can we self-certify rented homes?” the statement asked.