Landlords renting slum-like properties risk liability for "corporate manslaughter"

Pat Rabbitte has called for a change in the law to target those who fail to keep properties up to code

Landlords renting slum-like properties risk liability for "corporate manslaughter"

Former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte at the mass for former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, 07-10-2017. Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews

A former Government minister has warned that landlords renting slum-like properties risk leaving themselves open for "corporate manslaughter" charges. 

Dublin City Council is set to review reports about sub-standard rental properties when it meets on Monday.

It follows outrage after fire-risks and overcrowding were uncovered at rental properties across the city.

On Between the Lines with Sarah McInerney this morning former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said it is “astonishing” to hear of slum-like living conditions in 2017:

“If there are companies or whatever behind those terrible conditions, I think they are guilty possibly of corporate manslaughter,” he said.

He said there ought to be an improvement in the law that singles out landlords who fail to keep properties up to code adding “this is no common of garden breach of regulations.”

Slum living

The Prime Time investigation aired on Thursday 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.

Dublin City Council was reportedly informed of the risks four times before it responded.

The city’s Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donnacha has asked for a comprehensive report to be put before council’s meeting next week – warning that if there are faults, they need to be rectified and lessons learned.

Yesterday, the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said there should be “absolutely no tolerance for anybody who would provide that sort of accommodation.”

Minor Grenfell

Mr Rabbitte said it is “miraculous” that the living conditions in certain properties around the city have not led to any fatalities:

“Can you imagine what would have happened form what the experts told us who looked at some of these?” he asked.

“Can you imagine what would happen?

“You know we would have a minor Grenfell if what the experts told us is true – and I am sure it is.”

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 yesterday, 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.

Journalist Amy Molloy – who has been writing about the problem for the past year with Independent.ie – said there are slum-like properties across the city – including one in Cabinteely which was home to 70 people:

“The legislation around overcrowding is quite archaic – it is legislated under the 1966 Housing Act and the most that can happen to these landlords is a fine.

“But they are making so much money – they are raking in thousands of Euro every month – a fine is not really going to deter them from doing what they are doing.

“So I think stricter punishments need to be put in place.”