Following last week’s RTE PrimeTime Investigates into the overcrowding of privately rented accommodation within the North Inner City, I sought an update from Dublin City Council as to the number of privately rented homes across the city have been inspected in order to comply with Housing standards.
The Environmental Health team in Dublin City Council is responsible for the enforcement of standards as contained in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations, 2018. After an inspection, the Environmental Health officer will take appropriate enforcement action with the landlord as required. These actions may include the service of an Improvement Letter or Improvement Notice, the service of a Prohibition Notice and the taking of legal action depending on the nature of non-compliance.
It is important to note that where a property is non-compliant it does not mean that it is uninhabitable but indicates that some aspect of the property does not comply with the Regulations. This can range from a broken kitchen press to a non-functioning fire detection and alarm system. The high rate of non-compliance after first inspection reflects this broad spectrum. However as can be seen from the rate that become complaint by year end most cases are resolved through the inspection process.
During Q2 the DCC’s Private Rented Inspections Team developed a Virtual Inspection Programme which has been rolled out to maintain inspections notwithstanding COVID restrictions. This is supplemented by physical inspections in cases where the non-compliance relates to a serious hazard or risk, or where a Landlord has failed to engage in the virtual inspection process.
Pre-COVID, the unit undertook proactive inspections as well as the planned programme of inspections and responding to complaints. Given current restrictions we are constrained in that regard.
Earlier this week, at the Dublin Central Area Committee meeting, I successfully called for the Council’s Principal Environmental Health Officer to come before the Committee in January to discuss the works undertaken to date in respect of inspections and enforcement of standards for privately rented accommodation. Notwithstanding the ongoing public health advice, I will be seeking clarity from Council officials as to how they can ensure these essential regulations governing privately rented accommodation can be enforced.
Following January’s meeting, I will share with you any agreed action steps and how exactly Dublin City Council intends enforcing the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations, 2018 so that tenants are living in and paying for quality accommodation across our city.
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Fine Gael Councillor - North Inner City
Chair, Urban Form & Planning Strategic Policy Committee