Reform of apartment owners groups treated like a political hot potato

Ivana Bacik TD
25 June 2024

Labour Leader and Housing Spokesperson Ivana Bacik TD has criticised the Ministers for Housing and Justice for failing to provide regulation and support for owner management companies.

She has called on the Minister for Justice to prioritise an update of the Multi-Unit Development (MUD) Act 2011, in advance of the drawing down of redress for construction defects.

She was speaking following a briefing for Oireachtas members, hosted by the MUD Act Reform Group in Buswells Hotel, with speakers from the Not Our Fault group also contributing.

Deputy Bacik said:

“The MUD Act, passed in 2011, is clearly in need of updating – particularly to regulate owner management companies (OMCs). OMCs tend to be volunteer run and many of them are very anxious in the run up to the statutory redress scheme for construction defects coming into force.

“Reform of the MUD Act needs to happen at the same time as the redress scheme legislation is passed, but it would appear there is no appetite to do so within Government.

“Responsibility for reviewing and updating the MUD Act falls to the Department of Justice. However, for some reason, there appears to be no appetite within that Department to progress this, despite a commitment to do so featuring in the Programme for Government.

“It is widely accepted that the MUD Act is now very out of date. The Minister for Justice must reform the Act as soon as possible, and we should also see responsibility move to the Department of Housing.

“In the autumn, we will see the statutory scheme for redress for construction defects pass into effect. It is important that OMCs are in a position to draw down both emergency funding, and the full redress funding. The final scheme will affect up to 100,000 homeowners, costing €2.5 billion. There must be guidance offered to those applying and administering money in their development to fix these very concerning safety defects.

“Yet, they are shockingly under regulated. Indeed, the Government does not even know how many OMCs are in existence. Regulation is vital, not just in the context of construction defects, but also for dispute resolution, director training, and corporate governance more generally.

“Establishing a regulator must be a priority – even if on an interim footing during the short term.

“In the past, Minister McEntee has indicated that she is waiting for the Oireachtas to pass the statutory construction defects scheme before initiating a review of the Act. It seems obvious to me that those actions should happen in concert.

“The Minister must clarify if she recognises the need for OMCs to be regulated and for the MUD Act to be updated before the statutory remediation scheme comes into effect. Assuming that she does, she must now commit to commencing the review of that legislation without delay. This important measure cannot continue to be a political hot potato between her Department and Minister O’Brien’s.”

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