That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to introduce a new statutory definition of overcrowding in accommodation including the statutory standards that can be used by Planning Authorities to determine if accommodation is overcrowded for the purpose of the Housing Acts; and to strengthen penalties for building owners for overcrowded housing offences.
This Bill is to address a grave deficiency in current law, which is completely out of date and out of touch with the reality of life in Ireland today. The law needs to be modernised and strengthened to make it fit for purpose, particularly given the fact that overcrowding is a growing problem in the rental market as we know it. The aims of this Bill are to provide clarity to ensure that landlords cannot exploit the current rental crisis and impose unsafe and substandard living conditions; and to counteract what is, in many cases, unsafe and substandard living accommodation. This Bill sets the basic minimum space requirements for tenants. While fire safety legislation can be used to tackle issues such as overcrowding, it does not cover all units and does not encompass the quality of life standards we want to see.
There have been instances in recent months, especially on the "Prime Time" television programme, which show clearly that this issue has to be tackled. The Bill draws on UK and Canadian provisions to establish new standards, and it sets out penalties for breaches. While supply, as we always say, is key to the housing crisis, we cannot allow standards to slip as this could lead unscrupulous landlords taking advantage of the crisis. I seek full support for the legislation. We can move on to the next Stage and allow all parties and none to contribute to ensuring this is implemented as soon as practicable.