Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008, made under section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. These regulations were further amended by the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 which expanded the definition of ‘a proper state of structural repair’ to allow for all aspects of the internal and external appearance of a dwelling to be taken into account for the purposes of the regulations. All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with the regulations. Responsibility for enforcing the regulations rests with the relevant local authority, supported by a dedicated stream of funding allocated by my Department.
It is a matter for each individual local authority to decide the specific details of its enforcement strategy and inspection arrangements. In discharging their responsibilities in relation to the rental 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 made a range of recommendations on relevant issues, including targeting inspection activities.
My Department has allocated more than €25 million since 2004 to housing authorities for the purpose of carrying out their functions under the Housing Acts in relation to rented accommodation. Additional funding was provided in 2010 for once-off strategically-planned programmes of inspection known as “Intensified Inspection Projects”. Funding for Intensified Inspection Projects was awarded where housing authorities agreed to undertake additional, targeted inspection activity, over and above what they would conduct as part of their usual inspection programme. Fingal County Council did not submit a funding application for an Intensified Inspection Project and therefore did not receive additional funding in this regard. My Department, by means of on-site visits, examines a sample of local authorities’ inspections procedures each year, with particular reference to the Intensified Inspection Programme, to verify that value for money is being achieved. Fingal County Council has not yet been examined as part of this process.
In general, local authorities have significantly expanded their inspection activity in recent years with the number of inspections almost trebling – from 6,815 to 19,616 - in the period 2005 to 2012. Details of the inspections of private rented accommodation carried out on a county/city basis are available on my Department’s website at www.environ.ie.