Pyrite Remediation Programme

Questions (114)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

114. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding pyrite; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23757/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The report of the independent Pyrite Panel (June 2012) provides the framework and context for the pyrite remediation scheme and the eligibility criteria are reflective of the conclusions and recommendations of the report. The scheme , which has recently been made by the Pyrite Resolution Board, is limited in its application and scope, is applicable to a restricted group of homeowners within the geographical areas identified in the report of the Pyrite Panel and applies to houses, apartments, duplexes and maisonettes. It is a scheme of “last resort” where homeowners can demonstrate to the Pyrite Resolution Board that they have no other practicable options to seek redress.

In general, building defects are matters for resolution between contracting parties, the homeowner, the builder, the supplier and/or their respective insurers and in the event that the parties cannot reach a settlement by negotiation the option of seeking redress in the Courts may be considered.

Building Regulations Application

Questions (115)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

115. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide clarification regarding the position of self-builders after the introduction of the recent building regulations, SI 80, which came into effect on 1 March 2014; if he will shed light on the position of certified suppliers such as small quarries supplying stone gravel or small family joinery shops in particular; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23779/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Building Control Act 1990 places a clear statutory obligation on owners, designers and builders to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed in compliance with the building regulations. This applies to all sectors of the construction industry, including the self-build sector. Neither the Building Control Act 1990 nor any regulations made thereunder, including the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, place any restriction on whom an owner may assign as a builder once the owner is satisfied that the builder is competent to undertake the works involved.

An owner who intends to self-build, and who contracts out elements of their work to other parties, must assume legal responsibility for ensuring that the building or works concerned will comply with the requirements of building regulations.

The reply to Question Nos. 432 and 434 of 4 February 2014 addresses some of the practical considerations that arise for an owner in meeting their obligations as owner and as builder in a self-build situation. An Information Note on Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and the Self-Build Sector issued by my Department on 26 February 2014 has also been placed in the Oireachtas library.

The responsibility of the manufacturers of construction products to provide robust and reliable information in relation to the performance characteristics of such products arises from Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC. In addition, the National Standards Authority of Ireland has also produced additional guidance in respect of some harmonised standards in the form of National Annexes or Standard Recommendations which set out appropriate minimum performance levels for specific intended uses of certain products in Ireland. The key effect of the EU Construction Products Regulations is that since 1 July 2013, manufacturers of any construction product which is covered by a harmonised European product standard (known collectively as hENs) are required, when placing a product on the market, to make a Declaration of Performance for the product, and to affix the product’s CE mark.

The recent reforms of the arrangements in place for the oversight of building activity will mean that all those along the supply chain, including small quarries and joinery shops, can now expect certification to be sought in relation to the products they carry.

Housing Issues

Questions (116)

Finian McGrath

Question:

116. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23798/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The private rented sector is an increasingly important element of the housing market, with the proportion of households in the sector almost doubling in the period 2006-2011. Against this background, I am acutely conscious of the difficulties caused by rising rents and the problem of sourcing suitable accommodation, especially in Dublin and other urban centres.

The most recent data from the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) Rent Index and from the Daft.ie Rental Report show the extent of rising rents, particularly in Dublin and the major cities. In Dublin, rents for houses increased by 6.4% annually, and for apartments the figure was 8%.

The fundamental reason behind the rise in rents is a lack of supply. In 2006, some 93,419 housing units were completed across the country, 19,470 of them in Dublin. In 2013, a total of 8,301 homes were completed nationally, with just 1,360 in Dublin. The volume of activity in residential building and construction remains less than half of the volume seen in the year 2000.

Increasing both public and private housing supply is a critical issue and on 14 May 2014 the Government published Construction 2020 - A Strategy for a Renewed Construction Sector. This publication is a blueprint for a properly functioning and sustainable construction sector. It provides for a strategic approach to the provision of housing based on real and measured demand and addresses the full range of relevant issues including the planning process, financing, access to mortgage finance and the construction workforce. As part of the Construction Strategy, the Government is committed to publishing a social housing strategy by the end of the third quarter 2014 which will set out a vision for social housing and identify ways to increase social housing supply over the next 5 years.

Over half a billion euro in funding is being made available through my Department across a range of housing programmes in 2014 and I expect that in the region of 5,000 social housing units will be provided this year.

Resolution of the housing supply situation is the key element in restoring stability to the market but I recognise that the provision of additional units of housing takes time. Consequently, I have asked the PRTB to carry out a focused piece of research that will explore options to address the difficulties being experienced in segments of the private rented sector due to rising rents and to report back to me with policy recommendations before the end of June. My goal is to achieve stability and sustainability in the market for the benefit of tenants, landlords and society as a whole.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Administration

Questions (117)

Michael Lowry

Question:

117. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if a new tenant purchase scheme will be put in place for council tenants, if he will ensure that this scheme is brought forward as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23832/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Housing (scellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014, presented to Dáil Éireann on 7 May 2014, will, among other things, underpin a new tenant purchase scheme to replace the 1995 scheme for existing local authority houses, which closed for new applications at the end of 2012. The new scheme will be similar to the two incremental purchase schemes currently in operation, relating to newly-built local authority houses and local authority apartments, respectively .

I expect that the Bill will be enacted by the summer, following which I will prescribe the commencement date and the detailed terms of the scheme.

Private Residential Tenancies Board

Questions (118)

Billy Timmins

Question:

118. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding registering with the Private Residential Tenancies Board in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23870/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Private rented dwellings must, by law, be registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) which was established under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. Under this legislation a tenancy must be registered within one month after the commencement of the tenancy. In all circumstances where the tenancy is being registered more than one month after the commencement of the tenancy an additional fee of €90 is payable for these late registrations.

The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 does not provide for any exemptions from the requirement to pay the late fee. As such , the PRTB has no power to waive the late fee in any case regardless of the circumstances or the reasons for the delay.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment)(No. 2) Bill 2012, which has passed all stages in the Dáil and is currently before the Seanad, will amend section 137 of the 2004 Act to provide for penalties for late registration on an ascending scale. The purpose of this amendment is both to incentivise early registration and to make the system fairer since under the current provision a landlord who registers a tenancy a year late is subject to the same penalty as a landlord who registers a tenancy a day late. The proposed amendment provides that the late fee will be an additional €20 for each month that the landlord is late registering the tenancy.

Water Charges Exemptions

Questions (119, 121)

John Lyons

Question:

119. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will elaborate further on caps for water charges for those with medical conditions; if those with colostomy bags will be included for consideration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23882/14]

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Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

121. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if Crohn's disease, colitis and ulcerative colitis will be on the vulnerable customers list for water charges in view of the fact that these medical conditions require high water usage. [23908/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 and 121 together.

I refer to the reply to Question No. 95 of 29 May 2014. The position is unchanged.

Residential Property Sales

Question No. 121 answered with Question No. 119.

Questions (120)

Jim Daly

Question:

120. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the assistance, incentives or grants available to first-time buyers of residential properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23897/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government’s 2011 Housing Policy Statement announced the standing down of all affordable housing schemes in the context of a full review of Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2013. Details regarding the review are avail able on my Department’s website: http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/Housing/PublicConsultations/

As regards the review of Part V, the recently published Construction 2020 – A Strategy for a Renewed Construction Sector provides that the review will be completed in Q2 of 2014. It is anticipated that any legislative changes required on foot of the review will be incorporated in the General Scheme of a Planning Bill, which is currently in preparation.

The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014, currently at Committee Stage in the Dáil, includes provision for, among other things, a new tenant purchase scheme for existing local authority houses.  Under the terms of the Bill, the new scheme will be open to tenants who have not previously purchased a dwelling under a tenant or incremental purchase scheme.  I expect that the Bill will be enacted by the summer recess, following which I will prescribe the commencement date and the detailed terms of the scheme. 

There are no grants available from my Department to assist first time buyers of residential properties.

Question No. 121 answered with Question No. 119.