The national housing charity, Threshold has reiterated its call for an NCT-type certification system for private rented housing. Welcoming the introduction of improved minimum standards, which come into effect tomorrow (01.07.17), it said that greater enforcement is required to ensure that private rented housing meets those requirements.
Chairperson of Threshold, Dr Aideen Hayden said: “Whilst we broadly welcome the introduction of improved minimum standards, one in five Irish families is living in the private rented sector and, unfortunately, substandard accommodation is a significant issue. This not only affects tenants’ wellbeing, but is potentially putting their lives at risk.”
Current minimum standards, for example, do not address the issue of overcrowding. ‘Pre 63’ type housing is particularly problematic and the regulations applicable to ‘Pre 63’ housing contain no spatial standards, often the capacity of apartments/flats to physically accommodate beds is the only limiting factor. Often dangerous housing is occupied by the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society and this must be addressed.
She added: “The problem with substandard accommodation isn’t due to a lack of legislation alone, but to a lack of enforcement.Of the 13,066 dwellings inspected in 2015, almost two-thirds (8,440) were found to be below standard. However, legal action was only initiated in 27 cases, of which Dublin City Council took 24. We urgently need proper housing standards enforcement to make sure we never face a tragedy like Grenfell Tower.”
Threshold is reiterating its proposalfor an NCT-type system, whereby landlords would be obliged to provide compliance with minimum standards in order to rent their properties.
Chief Executive of Threshold, John-Mark McCafferty commented: “The current system is not fit for purpose. Local authorities do not have the capacity to inspect and effectively enforce minimum standards. We are calling for a certification system to be put in place where the onus would be on landlords to prove their compliance with minimum standards. Inspections would then focus solely on whether the landlord held a certificate of compliance.”
He added: “This would, in effect, operate like an NCT for rented housing, and a landlord would not be allowed to rent a property unless they held a certificate confirmingthe property met minimum legal standards. It would also take the responsibility of reporting breaches away from tenants.”
“To operate effectively, this system would need to be overseen by a dedicated national body with full resources to check registrations, take a proactive and systematic approach to inspections, and to respond to complaints.”
Threshold has also called for local authorities to fulfil their requirement to put in place and publish on their websites a strategic plan for carrying out inspections, including inspection targets and plans for follow-up procedures in the case of non-compliance. A survey it carried out this month found such information readily accessible on only two councils’ websites – Fingal and Kilkenny.
Mr McCafferty added: “Easily accessible, comprehensive information on the standards and how tenants can report issues to the local authority should also be available on council websites. Access to clear, concise and user-friendly information is essential to help people understand and ensure their rights.”
To view more on minimum standards and Threshold’s call for a ‘NCT’ for private rented accommodation click here
Threshold wishes to acknowledge funding received from the Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.