ICOS report shows renting in disarray under Fianna Fáil
- Private rental inspections must be increased
Labour leader and housing spokesperson Ivana Bacik has called for increased levels of inspections of private rental homes and renters’ rights, as many renters feel powerless and at the mercy of landlords given the dire shortage of homes available to rent.
Deputy Bacik said:
“The ICOS survey makes for absolutely shocking reading. It’s clear from this that there is insufficient enforcement of rental standards, and that renters’ rights are not being protected effectively across the country.
“Ireland’s rental legislation is far too skewed in favour of the landlord; renters bear far too much of the burden of ensuring that landlords act fairly and in accordance with the relevant laws.
“The chronic shortage of homes means that many renters are far too afraid to tackle their landlord when issues arise.
“Those who are not Irish citizens are particularly vulnerable, as the ICOS report highlights. Many may not be aware of the relevant laws or of the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board.
“We need to see greater emphasis on random inspections of rental accommodation, so that the State and State bodies can protect renters who feel too vulnerable or at risk of eviction.
“There’s a clear and obvious need to increase inspections of private rental properties.
“PQs presented to Seán Sherlock TD showed that of the 32,247 inspections carried out of private rental homes so far this year, 22,468 improvement letters were issued, and 994 improvement notices were served. There’s clearly an issue here.
“In a housing crisis, all the power lies with the landlord. There needs to be a radical reform of Ireland’s rental sector. Fianna Fáil cannot continue to ignore this. We need to give renters far greater rights and protections.”
For Written Answer on : 20/09/2023
Question Number(s): 400 Question Reference(s): 39499/23
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: Sean Sherlock T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the number of private rented accommodation inspections that were carried out by all local authorities in each of the years 2018 to 2022 and to date in 2023; the number of inspections in which further enforcement action was taken, in tabular form; the procedure for deeming that a property is unfit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 and specify requirements in relation to a range of matters, such as structural repair, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, natural light, fire safety and the safety of gas, oil and electrical supplies. These Regulations apply to all properties let or available for let. All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with the standards set down in the Regulations.
Responsibility for the enforcement of the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 in the private rental sector rests with the relevant local authority.
If a property has been found to be non-compliant with the Regulations, it is a matter for the local authority to determine what action is necessary and appropriate. Under sections 18A and 18B of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, a housing authority may serve an Improvement Notice or Prohibition Notice, respectively, where a property is found to be non-compliant.
Under Section 34 of that Act, any person who by act or omission contravenes the Regulations, fails to comply with an improvement notice, or re-lets a house in breach of a prohibition notice, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both. If the contravention, failure to comply or re-letting is continued after conviction, the person will be guilty of a further offence on every day on which the contravention, failure to comply or re-letting continues and for each such offence will be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €400 per day.
The Government is committed to ensuring that a stock of high quality accommodation is available for those who live in the private rented sector. Housing for All sets a target of 25% for the inspection of all private residential tenancies from 2021. A total of €9 million in Exchequer funding is being made available by my Department to local authorities this year to help them meet their private rental inspection targets.
Annual data in respect of the level of inspections and enforcement carried out by each local authority is available on my Department’s website at the following link:
Last year local authorities conducted an all-time high of over 49,000 inspections of private rented dwellings, up from circa 25,000 in 2020 and 20,000 in 2021, when pandemic restrictions had impacted on inspections. Figures for the first half of 2023 show that 32,247 inspections have been conducted. Further enforcement details for 2023 are set out in the table below:
|Year||Total Private Rental Inspections Carried Out||Total Improvement Letters issued||Total Improvement Notices Served||Total Prohibition Notices Served||Legal Action Initiated|
|Q1 & Q2 2023||32,247||22,468||994||82||2|