Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Questions (713, 714, 718)

Gerry Adams

Question:

713. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if in a case in which a tenant goes to the Residential Tenancy Board regarding housing conditions and the matter subsequently goes to adjudication or tribunal, he will instruct the Board to immediately notify the relevant county council and request that payments to the landlord be suspended pending the outcome of this process. [9384/18]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

714. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if additional powers will be given to the Residential Tenancy Board through its procedures to compel landlords to rectify housing conditions when it makes determination orders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9385/18]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

718. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will instruct local authorities to immediately cease housing assistance payments after the period to appeal the inspection has passed; and if fines can be issued on a weekly basis until the outstanding matters are rectified in the event of a building failing an engineer's inspection. [10225/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 713, 714 and 718 together.

A tenant can take a case against their landlord regarding standard and maintenance of a dwelling. They must first write a letter to their landlord, outlining the issues and giving them a reasonable period in which to rectify the situation. If the problem persists after the letter has been sent, the tenant may take a case against the landlord through the Residential Tenancies Board.

Disputes that involve alleged breaches of minimum standards include the following:

- Allegations of breach of landlord obligations pursuant to Section 12 (1) (b) in which a landlord of a dwelling is obliged to carry out all such repairs necessary to ensure that a dwelling complies with the standards for housing and repairs and replacements of fittings necessary to ensure the dwelling is to a standard comparable to the condition at the commencement of the tenancy and in compliance with any such standards for the time being prescribed;

- Allegations of breach of tenant obligations, pursuant to Section 16 of the Act, to ensure that no act or omission by the tenant results in a breach of landlord obligations (and, in particular, the landlord’s obligations under section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992), to notify the landlord or his agent of any defects that need to be repaired and allow the landlord or a person acting on his behalf reasonable access to carry out such repairs.

Section 86(1)(a) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 provides that tenants must continue to pay rent, pending the determination of a dispute that has been referred to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). It is important that a tenant must continue to pay their rent in full until the tenancy ends and while any RTB dispute is ongoing. Further information on the RTB's dispute resolution process can be found at the following link:

https://www.rtb.ie/dispute-resolution/dispute-resolution/dispute-resolution-process-faqs .

Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. They specify requirements in relation to a range of matters, such as structural repair, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, natural light and safety of gas, oil and electrical supply. All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these Regulations. Responsibility for enforcement of the Regulations rests with the relevant local authority.

Under Section 34 of Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, any person who by act or omission contravenes the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017, fails to comply with an improvement notice, or re-lets a house in breach of a prohibition notice, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both. If the contravention, failure to comply or re-letting is continued after conviction, the person shall be guilty of a further offence on every day on which the contravention, failure to comply or re-letting continues and for each such offence shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €400 per day.

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is underpinned by the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014. Under section 41 of the 2014 Act, local authorities are required to commence the inspection process within 8 months of the commencement of HAP support being provided in relation to a particular dwelling, if not already inspected within the previous 12 months. HAP may be provided on a property which is the subject of a subsisting improvement notice under section 18A of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. HAP shall not be, or shall cease to be, provided on a property which is the subject of proceedings or a prohibition notice under section 18B of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. Where a prohibition notice has come into effect, HAP may continue to be paid for 13 weeks from the date of HAP commencing or the notice coming into force, as appropriate.

Question No. 716 answered with Question No. 72.

Question No. 715 answered with Question No. 54.