Thursday, 7 February 2019

Questions (271)

Seán Haughey

Question:

271. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will review the regulations in place concerning standards in privately rented accommodation in order that it is compulsory for double glazed windows to be provided in such accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6072/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The 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, safety of gas, oil and electrical supply and fire. 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.

Following enactment of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, local authorities have a strengthened legislative framework available to them which provides for the issuing of Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices where landlords are in breach of their obligations. 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, will be guilty of an offence and will 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 will 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 will be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €400 per day.

If an inspection identifies that a property has been found to be non-compliant with the regulations, it is a matter for the Local Authority to determine what action is necessary and appropriate, including the issuing of an Improvement Letter, Improvement Notice, Prohibition Notice or further legal recourse.

Part L of the Building Regulations governs the replacement of windows in existing dwellings. Part L does not apply to works to an existing building which is a “protected structure” or a “proposed protected structure” within the meaning of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Technical Guidance Document TGD L 2017 gives guidance on acceptable levels of provision to ensure that heat loss through fabric elements (including windows) provided by way of material alteration or replacement to an existing dwelling is limited insofar as reasonably practicable. TGD L 2017 is available on my Department's website at:

www.housing.gov.ie/housing/building-standards/tgd-part-l-conservation-fuel-and-energy/technical-guidance-document-l-6.

The maximum U-value, which measures the maximum heat loss permitted for Material Alterations or Material Change of Use of windows, is given in Table 5 of TGD L 2017 as 1.6 W/m2 K (e.g. a double glazed window with 12 mm argon spacing and low-E glass).

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offers several types of grants for the energy efficient retrofitting of dwellings including the replacement of windows. SEAI provide more information, in their Grants section, on their website www.seai.ie.

Building Regulations do not apply retrospectively and do not provide specific requirements for privately rented accommodation. I have no plans, at present, to amend the regulations to make it compulsory that double glazed windows be provided in such accommodation.