Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (492)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

492. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will have inspectors, independent of local authorities, inspect local authority houses to investigate the number that are up to the 2008 housing regulations and that a grant be made available to upgrade all stock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8176/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008, as amended by the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009, made under section 18 of the Housing (scellaneous Provisions) Act 1992.

With very limited exemptions these regulations apply to local authority and non-profit approved housing body units as well as private re nt ed accommodation and responsibility for enforcing the 2008 Regulations rests with the relevant local authority. In discharging their responsibilities in relation to the rented sector, authorities have been asked to have regard to the Good Practice Guidelines for Local Authorities on Standards in the Private Rented Sector: Strategic Planning, Effective Enforcement published by the Centre for Housing Research in November 2007, which makes a range of recommendations on matters relevant to inspection procedures such as identifying and targeting inspection requirements. Details of the number of inspections carried out and the amounts paid to each local authority are available on my Department’s website www.environ.ie.

In general, local authorities have significantly expanded their inspection activity with the number of inspections growing from 6,815 in 2005 to 19,820 in 2011. I do not propose to establish an inspection system independent of the local authorities but the quality and the outcomes of the current inspections regime will continue to be kept under review by my Department. With regard to the standard of local authority housing stock, under my Department’s Social Housing Investment Programme, local authorities are allocated funding each year in respect of a range of measures to improve the standard and overall quality of their social housing stock. The programme includes a retrofitting measure aimed at improving the energy efficiency of older apartments and houses by reducing heat loss through the fabric of the building. Over the past two years, the retrofitting measure focussed on improvement works to vacant houses with the objective of returning as many as possible of these dwellings to productive use and combating dereliction and associated anti-social behaviour. Over that period some €52.5 million was recouped to local authorities in respect of improvements carried out to 4,774 dwellings.