Limerick City and County Council’s inspection rate for private accommodation remains low, according to figures released in the Council’s 2018 budget. The budget document, presented to councillors on Friday, 17 November, showed the exact number of houses inspected, up to 24 October this year.
The Council’s Private Rented Inspections Unit carried out 947 inspections over the past year, including 627 homes in receipt of Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), 308 on the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and just 12 other privately-owned rental properties.
The Council’s own figures show there are 1,857 HAP properties and 1,112 RAS properties. This means 33 percent of HAP properties were inspected and just 27 percent of RAS properties. The Council also owns 5,200 properties which it rents to tenants, but no information was available on how many of these homes were inspected.
Councillor Cian Prendiville (Solidarity), who voted against the budget, claimed that rental property inspections had declined on the previous year and criticised what he sees as inadequate measures.
“A few weeks ago, RTÉ Investigates highlighted the Wild West situation with regards standards in private rental accommodation” Prendiville said. “They showed how only about 5 percent of registered rented accommodation is inspected a year – not to mention the unregistered.”
“Limerick was one of the blackspots they mentioned, where apparently 100% of all properties inspected failed. At last year’s budget, I raised precisely the issue of the low level of inspections of private rental accommodation in Limerick. In fact, in the last 12 months, the rate of inspections has fallen by 20 percent. Nowhere in the budget is any proposals to address this problem, or the connected issues of building compliance and fire compliance inspections.”
RTÉ’s Investigations Unit singled out Limerick for the high failure rates of rented accommodation but as so few inspections take place, it is impossible to know the exact state of rental property in Limerick.
“It really seems like the approach here is to hear no housing crisis, see no housing crisis, speak no housing crisis,” Councillor Prendiville said. “In the middle of a historic shortage of social and affordable homes, the council is planning to build just 89 houses next year – 10 less than this year. The budget for house building in 2018 is actually down on what was agreed last year. Over the next 3 years it is proposed to build 546 houses – at that rate it will take to 2040 to clear just the existing housing waiting list.”
The Council’s budget highlighted construction of new houses and refurbishment of existing properties. In 2018, the Council hopes to build 89 houses, followed by 214 in 2019, 206 in 2020 and 37 in 2021. It has also made thermal upgrades to 591 homes, with 663 units in preparation.