"Absolutely no tolerance" for sub-standard accommodation, Tánaiste says

Poor enforcement of regulation is being blamed for "appalling" rental conditions

"Absolutely no tolerance" for sub-standard accommodation, Tánaiste says

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald speaks to the media in Dublin | Image via @SeanDefoe on Twitter

Updated: 16.45

The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald says it is disgraceful that some tenants are being forced to live in overcrowded and slum-like conditions.

It comes after a new Prime Time investigation revealed shocking living conditions facing residents in some privately rented accommodation.

The programme uncovered one building with more than 60 tenants, while another was housing more than 40.

Three Dublin buildings - in Crumlin, Kilmainham and Rathmines - have since closed following inspections by the fire brigade.

Ms Fitzgerald says it is unacceptable and wants to see a more pro-active approach from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).


Appalling circumstances

Aideen Hayden from the housing organisation Threshold says the situation is becoming significantly worse, adding that authorities are failing to enforce regulation:

"Day in and day out, we see people living in appalling circumstances – not just overcrowding but also the most appalling situations with damp and mould and properties that you wouldn’t and couldn’t possible bring children up in,"she said.

"But at the end of the day, unless we enforce the legislation that we have – which we are not doing – we are not protecting people, we are not protecting their rights and we are failing them."

Inspections

According to the investigation, only 4% of rental properties were inspected last year – while more than two thirds of properties are failing to comply with regulations.

On Newstalk Breakfast earlier, Junior Minister for Housing Damien English admitted the condition of some rental accommodation is "a disgrace".

He said the Government intends to ring-fence €2.5m for rental property inspections next year.

"I think it is nothing short of disgraceful, the behaviour there, I mean these are just rogue landlords – it is as simple as that and they have to be dealt with," he said.

"The legislation is in place to prevent this happening and naturally we need to fund more money into the inspection regime but also there is a reporting mechanism there that any tenant or anybody that sees this happening – like the producers of that programme – can report this into the authorities and it should be dealt with."

Rental crisis

These people have described the challenges facing renters in Ireland.

Ms Hayden also warned that Ireland is now paying for the failure of the authorities to effectively enforce the legislation that exists to protect renters.

"There is no effective enforcement," she said.

"Landlords do not fear being caught, because if you look at the statistics nobody has faced a prison sentence; nobody has stood behind the dock for what they are doing to people day in and day out."

Exploitation

Labour Party spokesperson on housing Jan O’Sullivan described the findings as horrific - adding that certain landlords are exploiting "very vulnerable people."

She said the investigation exposes a sordid and exploitative underground black market in the rental sector that needs to be stamped out.

"We cannot allow it continue so there has to be the resources given to the local authorities to ensure that there is proper inspection," she said.

"I do also believe that there is potentially possible criminal investigations here that should be investigated because people may well have their lives put at risk."

The average rent for a single room in Dublin City Centre is currently €632, according to the Daft.ie Q2 rental report for 2017.

Additional reporting: Jack Quann and Sean Defoe