Fianna Fáil TD and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness, John Curran has said that the cuts to funding provided to local authorities in Ireland to carry out inspections in private rental accommodation is a direct contradiction to the Government’s claim to better support local authorities to regulate the quality of units on the rental market.
Information received by the Deputy through Parliamentary Question this month revealed that funding to local authorities to conduct inspections fell from €2.4m in 2012 to €1.7m in 2016.
Deputy Curran explained, “The breaches of health and safety in the private rented sector in Ireland, which were recently uncovered must be tackled at local authority level. However, local authorities are now receiving less funding on an annual basis to ensure rental accommodation is maintained at acceptable living standards.
“The figures reveal that over the past five years the level of funding provided to local authorities for inspection purposes has steadily fallen.
“The housing crisis has left countless people and families unable to afford the rising cost of rent, especially in Dublin and have therefore been left with no choice but to live in poor quality accommodation.
“It is clear from the Minister’s response that our local authorities do not have the sufficient resources required to regulate the quality of units on the rental market or identify cases of extreme negligence by landlords. It’s a contradiction to suggest that the Government are taking housing standards seriously and aim to accelerate inspections, yet stand by repeated cuts to funding.
“In response to recent revelations regarding overcrowding in the private rental market, Fianna Fáil called for the establishment of a new NCT style test to ensure that all private rented accommodation meets minimum criteria before going onto the market.
“Local Authorities should be financed properly by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to adequately enforce laws and inspect units to safeguard against breaches of standards in the private rental sector.
Deputy Curran concluded, “We can no longer leave it to the media to expose more and more cases of negligence in the housing market. Urgent effort is needed to increase funding to local authorities so that they can intensify inspections. This is a serious matter of citizen’s health and safety and cannot wait.”