County Development Plans

Questions (1911)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

1911. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will address a matter regarding the Mayo County Development Plan 2014-2020 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36339/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The making of a County Development Plan is a reserved function of the relevant planning authority, in this case Mayo County Council. It is a requirement that a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) be prepared as part of the plan-making process for any County Development Plan. This is to inform the planning authority on matters such as the appropriate location for zoned land and, following the adoption of the plan, to assist in the preparation, where appropriate, of local area plans and the determination of planning applications.

To guide the preparation of SFRAs, Ministerial guidance entitled The Planning System and Flood Risk Management was issued in 2009 under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). As part of the preparation of the Mayo County Development Plan 2014-2020, an SFRA was prepared that included a Stage Two Initial Flood Risk Assessment of 11 settlements across the County. This was to give a further level of assessment of flood risk in these more urban locations.

The County Development Plan SFRA will be complemented by, where appropriate and relevant, local area plan flood risk assessments, flood risk assessments for particular development proposals and further more detailed work carried out as part of the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) project by the Office for Public Works.

Following the forthcoming adoption of the North and West Regional Economic and Spatial Strategy, which is expected by November 2019, Mayo County Council will follow the statutory adoption process for recommencing a review of the County Development Plan, which will include a new SFRA for the County, that may consider any new or updated information.

Property Registration Authority Data

Questions (1912)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

1912. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount collected in search fees by the Land Registry in 2018; and the cost of eradicating search fees on its data sets. [36705/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Land Registry Map is available online and may be searched free of charge. In 2018 there were 2,568,068 online map searches carried out in this manner. Name and area searches incur a €5 fee as do inspections of ownership details on a Folio. The relevant fees received by the Property Registration Authority for 2018 are set out in the following table. All fees are remitted to the Exchequer.

Land Registry services

Fee

2018 Volumes

Fees Received 2018

Online Map Search

No charge

2,568,068

€0

Name Search

€5.00

140,374

€701,870

Area Search

€5.00

13,001

€65,005

Total

€766,875

View Ownership Details on Folio (in PDF format)

€5.00

977,131

€4,885,655

Total for Searches and subsequent viewing of Folios

€5,652,530

Water Quality

Questions (1913)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

1913. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the arrangements for measuring lead levels in public drinking water supplies; if the latest results will be provided by local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36764/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the supervisory authority for public water supplies in Ireland. Irish Water is responsible for monitoring public water supplies while local authorities are responsible for monitoring water provided by other suppliers. The roles of the water supplier, the EPA and the Health Services Executive (HSE) in relation to measuring lead levels in public drinking water supplies are set out in the European Union (Drinking Water) Regulations 2014 (as amended), a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas library.

The EPA's Drinking Water Reports for Public Supplies and Private Water Supplies are available on the EPA website, including information on compliance with lead parameters.

The Government published a National Strategy to Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water in June 2015. In response to the recommendations of this strategy, Irish Water prepared a detailed Lead in Drinking Water Mitigation Plan to identify measures to mitigate the risks to human health posed by the presence of lead in drinking water. Irish Water has indicated that it will remove all lead in public supply pipes over the next ten years. They have also put in place an interim water treatment programme to protect consumers from lead exposure while this replacement programme is implemented.

Irish Water is responsible for the service pipe up to the property boundary; however, most lead pipes are within the property boundary and are the responsibility of the property owner. My Department has introduced a grant scheme to assist owners of premises connected to a domestic water supply with the costs of replacing lead piping or related fittings located within the internal distribution system of the premises, as defined in the Water Services Act 2007. The grant is administered by local authorities and information on how to apply for this grant is available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/leaflet_-_grant_to_replace_lead_pipes_and_fittings.pdf.

Local Authority Housing

Questions (1914)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

1914. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated cost of deep retrofitting all local authority and social housing stock to the highest standard by unit; and the cost of installing solar panels in the same housing stock. [34715/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

There are circa 138,000 social housing homes nationally in the ownership of local authorities.

My Department has been funding an Energy Efficiency Retrofitting Programme for these properties since 2013. The Programme has 2 Phases - Phase 1, which comprises the bulk of the work undertaken to date, has focused on the lower cost improvements such as cavity wall and attic insulation, while Phase 2 targets higher cost measures, such as fabric upgrades, glazing/heating upgrades and the installation of photovoltaic panels. As local authorities progress further into Phase 2 of this programme the aim will be to bring the deep retrofit of the social housing stock to the 'cost optimal' equivalent performance, or a BER of B2.

In the period 2013 to date in 2019, some €134 million in exchequer funding has been provided under the Programme to improve energy efficiency and comfort levels in almost 70,000 local authority homes. In addition, energy efficiency measures have been incorporated into the 9,000 plus vacant social housing homes that have been returned to productive use under the Voids Programme since 2014.

The cost of carrying out an energy retrofit on a social housing home depends on a wide range of factors including dwelling size, year of construction, dwelling condition, and construction type. While initial indications suggest that investment in the region of €2 billion may be required to complete the retrofitting of the local authority housing stock, a detailed analysis of the stock is required to profile both the further works required to homes that have had lower cost improvements carried out under Phase 1 and under the Voids Programme, and the works required to the remainder of the stock. Work in this regard will be carried out with local authorities in the context of the application process for funding under the Energy Efficiency Programme in 2020.

Fire Service

Questions (1915)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1915. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when guidelines will be published in relation to new battery stations; when international best practice for fire crews will be established in relation to dealing with these stations should they go on fire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34735/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The provision of fire services, including the requisite premises, personnel, appliances and equipment, is a statutory function of fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003 and fire services are provided by local authorities in accordance with this legislation.

My Department supports fire authorities mainly through setting national policy and co-ordinating its implementation; providing capital funding for fire appliances, emergency equipment and the construction and upgrading of fire stations; centralised training programmes and co-ordination of the development of guidance on operational and other fire service related matters.

The development of battery storage compound projects is subject to Planning and, where applicable, Building Regulation requirements. Where applications are made for approval of battery storage projects, fire service personnel provide input into appropriate fire safety and fire-fighting requirements based on international experience and best practice. Where a particular premises is regarded as having high fire risk, local fire services develop Pre-Incident Plans (PIPs) and undertake familiarisation visits to such sites within their areas of responsibility.

Fire fighting, in areas of particular risk, including battery storage facilities, is also being considered in the context of Standard Operational Guidance (SOG) developed by my Department's National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Questions (1916)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

1916. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will address a matter regarding a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34763/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in line with the “preferred draft approach” which was announced in June 2017 by the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, in conjunction with the then Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including sound or noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.

As part of the overall review process, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive. SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process.

While the revised draft guidelines had been expected to be published in Quarter 1 2019, some delays to the planned schedule arose, due to the publication of updated World Health Organisation (WHO) noise standards and the need to focus on certain Brexit-related planning issues.

As part of the SEA process, there will shortly be an eight-week public consultation on the revised draft Guidelines, together with the comprehensive environmental report. Finalised Guidelines will be prepared following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions received during the consultation phase, and the conclusion of the SEA process. My Department is aiming to commence the public consultation later this month.

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála, must have regard to guidelines issued under section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.

The current Guidelines, inter alia, offer advice to planning authorities in determining applications for planning permission. However, proposals for wind energy developments are subject to the statutory requirements of the Planning Acts, in the same manner as other proposed developments. Therefore, it is not intended to place a moratorium on planning applications for wind farm developments, as referred to, pending the finalisation of the revisions to the 2006 Guidelines.

Derelict Sites

Questions (1917)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

1917. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount paid each month during the period 30 January 2015 to June 2016 by the owners of a derelict site (details supplied) to Galway City Council in respect of the standard annual 3% levy on derelict sites; the amount paid each month during the same period by the owners in fines for non-compliance with notices to carry out works to render the property non-derelict; if the derelict site levy and fines are still being paid; the works carried out by the site owners to render the site non-derelict since the property was added to the derelict sites register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34767/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The information requested by the Deputy is not collected by my Department.

Under section 8 (Part II) of the Derelict Sites Act 1990, each planning authority is required to maintain a register of derelict sites, including derelict houses and structures, in their respective functional areas and to have it available for inspection at its offices during office hours. In addition, some planning authorities publish their register online, although this is not required by statute. The register is required to contain the following information:(a) particulars of any land in their functional area which, in their opinion, is a derelict site,(b) the name and address of each owner and occupier, where these can be ascertained by reasonable enquiry,(c) particulars of any action taken by the local authority under this Act or under any other enactment in relation to the site,(d) in the case of land owned or occupied by a local authority, particulars of the use, if any, which is being made of the land and particulars of any purpose for which the land is intended to be used,(e) particulars of the market value of urban land as determined by the local authority, or by the Valuation Tribunal on appeal, in accordance with the provisions of section 22, and(f) such other particulars as may be prescribed.

The specific information requested in relation to the site concerned can be obtained by contacting Galway City Council at housing@galwaycity.ie.

Planning Issues

Questions (1918)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

1918. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of residents in both the Citywest and Tallaght areas of Dublin 24 regarding the introduction of the fast-track planning application; if An Bord Pleanála will have regard to the local area plans completed by the local authority for both Citywest and Tallaght town centre in approving new developments; the requirements of An Bord Pleanála to adhere to these under current legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34820/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Section 9 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the 2016 Act), requires An Bord Pleanála (the Board), when making a decision on a planning application for a Strategic Housing Development (SHD), to have regard to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area in which it is proposed to situate the proposed development, the development plan for the area and any relevant local area plan, any submissions or observations received, the potential effects on the environment or on a European site - as the case may be - of the proposed development, as well as any relevant Ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by my Department.

When making its determination, the Board is further required under section 9 of the 2016 Act to consider the report of the relevant planning authority on the proposed development. The report includes the authority’s opinion on the proposed development, a recommendation on whether to grant or refuse permission and the views of the elected members on the proposed development as expressed at a meeting of the Area Committee or Municipal District, where such a meeting has taken place.

Planning authorities play a central role in the determination of SHD applications. The pre-application stage relating to a proposed SHD project requires the prospective applicant, in the first instance, to consult with the relevant planning authority prior to engaging in formal pre-application consultations with the Board. In addition, the planning authority is required to submit to the Board its written opinion on the proposed development with regard to the provisions of the relevant development plan or local area plan in advance of the formal pre-application consultation meeting with the prospective applicant. Planning authority officials with sufficient knowledge and expertise in the matter concerned are required to attend any such formal pre-application consultation meetings between the Board and the prospective applicant.

Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, as amended, I am specifically precluded from exercising power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

Planning Issues

Questions (1919)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

1919. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when his Department will conduct a review of the new fast-track planning application for large residential developments; if submissions will be invited from the public in respect of these; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34821/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

As part of the actions under the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.

The primary purpose of the SHD arrangements is to support efficiency in the planning decision-making process, providing greater certainty for developers in terms of the timeframes within which proposals for such developments can be determined, while also fully respecting the need to ensure proper planning and sustainable development, the statutory requirements for consultation and consideration of observations submitted.

The Act provides that the SHD arrangements apply for an initial period until the end of 2019. Section 4(2)(a) of the Act provides that not later than 30 October 2019, the operation and effectiveness of the SHD arrangements must be reviewed and a report of my conclusions from the review must be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

In this regard, I have established a Review Group to assess the operation and effectiveness of the SHD provisions and to report back to me by end September 2019. The membership of the Review Group is as follows:

- Mr. John Martin, former Principal Planning Adviser in my Department (Chairperson),

- Mr. David Silke, Housing Agency,

- Mr. David O’Connor, former Chief Executive, Fingal County Council, and

- Mr. Liam Conneally, Director of Services, Clare County Council, (nominated by the County and City Management Association).

To augment the work of the Review Group, a public consultation on the SHD arrangements was advertised and held in July 2019.

Following the statutory review, section 4(2)(b) of the Act provides that I may extend, by order, the SHD arrangements for a further limited period of 2 years, up to the end of 2021, to coincide with the remaining timeframe of Rebuilding Ireland.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (1920)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

1920. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the land development agency legislation; when it is planned for the agency to proceed to acquiring brownfield sites within the M50 for residential development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34822/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The General Scheme of the Bill to establish the Land Development Agency (LDA) on a primary legislative basis was approved by Government and has now been published. It has been referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government for Pre-Legislative Scrutiny which is set to begin in the coming weeks. It is intended that the LDA Bill will be published and brought before the Oireachtas later this year.

The LDA has not been given a specific mandate to acquire brownfield sites within Dublin’s M50 area. However, the LDA can do so if it identifies strategic opportunities within the area where it could unlock development, particularly where it would not otherwise happen without its intervention.

The LDA is also reviewing lands in State ownership and is engaging with the relevant local authorities in respect of the regeneration of brownfield areas in Dublin and other cities on an ongoing basis.

Land Development Agency

Questions (1921)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

1921. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the consultation which has been undertaken with the four Dublin local authorities in respect of the forthcoming work of the land development agency to build new residential communities in their administrative areas; the way in which this will be co-ordinated with the local authorities' existing local area plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34823/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Extensive consultation has taken place and is ongoing between the Land Development Agency (LDA) and the four Dublin local authorities. The discussions have centred around both how the LDA can assist with the formulation of plans to deliver affordable housing on local authority owned lands, and the LDA’s plans for sites in its initial portfolio that are located in the Dublin area.

Any planning applications that are made pursuant to these engagements will be consistent with the development plans, local area plans and national planning policy.

Fire Service

Questions (1922)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

1922. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to increase the necessary equipment and resources of Dublin Fire Brigade in view of the increasing height and density of new residential developments; the way in which new development would impact on the area serviced by the Tallaght fire station, Dublin 24; the way in which the station is to be upgraded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34824/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The provision of fire services is a statutory function of fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003. In the case of Dublin, the City Council provides fire services on behalf of the other three Dublin local authorities also.

My Department supports fire authorities mainly through setting national policy and co-ordinating its implementation; providing capital funding for fire appliances, emergency equipment and the construction and upgrading of fire stations; centralised training programmes and co-ordination of the development of guidance on operational and other fire service related matters.

In relation to fire service response, the management of resources, equipment and the number and type of fire appliances is a matter for each of the fire authorities based on their assessment of local needs and requirements. Continued investment in the national fleet is one of the key priorities for my Department's Fire Services Capital Programme. Under the capital programmes since 2008, my Department has funded nine ‘Class B’ appliances and two turntable ladders for Dublin. My Department continues to work closely with fire services in Dublin in relation to further priority projects.

Fire safety issues are kept under review by the Management Board of my Department's National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM).

In terms of buildings, the primary statutory responsibility for ensuring the safety of persons using any building rests with the persons having control of those buildings. The design and construction of buildings in the first instance, including in-built fire safety features such as building layout, means of escape and fire resistance are critical for protecting persons from fire. Safety features, such as fire detection and alarm systems, support safe evacuation of occupants and the containment of fires. The appropriate fire safety measures in any building are based on the scale, density and height of the building and are set out in national Building Regulations and associated Technical Guidance and Codes of Practice.

The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) in my Department published a Report in 2016 titled “Local Delivery – National Consistency”, which includes information on the Area Risk Categorisation process and the fire services provided in Dublin. Fire service response to any particular incident or category of incidents is determined by the Chief Fire Officer, taking account of national policy and guidance. A National Incident Command System was developed by the NDFEM in 2009 and was introduced nationwide with appropriate training and support materials. The Incident Commander decides on the appropriate course of action to be taken in any given situation, taking into consideration the balance of needs, risk and resources, with particular regard to health, safety and welfare of fire-fighters.

In relation to fighting fires in high-rise buildings, my Department issued guidance entitled "Fighting Fires in High-Rise Buildings" in April 2011. This was part of a suite of 47 Standard Operational Guidance (SOG) documents developed between 2010 and 2012 by fire service personnel and issued by the NDFEM. A copy of the SOG concerned, SOG 3.02, is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/Community/FireandEmergencyServices/FileDownLoad%2C33367%2Cen.pdf.

There has been a steady decline in the number of fire incidents and the number of fatalities resulting from fires in Ireland over the past decade. Using the three-year averaged annual fire death rate per million of population metric, Ireland is among the countries where fire fatalities are seen to have been reduced to under 6 fire deaths per million of population. Work must continue in order to avoid the tragedy of fatalities from fire, the vast majority of which occur in the home. However, the positive impact of better fire safety design in buildings, effective fire safety management by those with statutory responsibility in large and complex buildings and improvements in community fire safety strategies, as well as fire services response, all contribute to a enhanced fire safety. These important matters are kept under constant review at local and national level.

Legal Proceedings

Questions (1923)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1923. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of planning approvals by An Bord Pleanála of residential developments of over 100 units under the accelerated planning process for large-scale developments which have been challenged in the courts; the number of such challenges which have been successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34836/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

While the State may be a co-respondent or notice party in certain legal challenges against planning decisions of An Bord Pleanála, this would not always be the case. Full details in relation to the number and nature of such cases would be held by the Board and the management of such cases is a matter for the Board itself. Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, I am specifically precluded from commenting or exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which the Board is or may be concerned.

Arrangements have been put in place by all bodies under the aegis of my Department to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. This provides a speedy, efficient and cost effective system to address queries directly to the relevant bodies. The contact email address for An Bord Pleanála in this regard is Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie.

Ministerial Advisers Data

Questions (1924)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1924. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the name of each person employed as an adviser or special adviser to him and the Ministers of State in his Department; the salary of each in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34849/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Two Special Advisers, Mr. Jack O'Donnell and Mr. Paul Melia, are employed in my Department.

The salary details of both advisers are set out in tabular form as follows.

Name

Payscale

Paul Melia

Principal Officer (Standard) PPC pay scale (€85,823 - €105,552).

Jack O'Donnell

Principal Officer (Standard) PPC pay scale (€85,823 - €105,552).

There are no Special Advisers employed in respect of the Ministers of State in my Department.

Harbours and Piers Development

Questions (1925)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

1925. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the technical assessment by the marine licence vetting committee which was being undertaken in February 2019 concerning Schull Harbour development; the commencement date for the work to begin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34873/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The technical assessment by the Marine Licence Vetting Committee was completed on 3 April 2019. The lease is currently being drafted by the Chief State Solicitor's Office and once it is signed by all parties, it will be a matter for the applicant to decide when they will commence construction.

Rent Increases

Questions (1926)

Seán Fleming

Question:

1926. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position in relation to areas not under rent pressure zones in which rent is increasing and in which landlords put up rent by over 30% in the expectation that the area will be declared a rent pressure zone in the future; the options available for tenants in these situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34885/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

For tenancies in Local Electoral Areas (LEA's) which have not yet been designated as a Rent Pressure Zone, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015, enacted on 4 December 2015, amends Section 20 to provide that rent reviews can only take place every 24 months rather than every 12 months, unless there has been a substantial change in the nature of the accommodation that warrants a review. The review of rent will still be on the basis of the market rent. The landlord must also provide three examples of rents for similar properties in a comparable area to demonstrate this.

Tenants must be given 90 days’ notice of new rent and can make an application for dispute resolution to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) if they have not been given the required notice, or if they feel the rent increase is in excess of the market rent. These provisions have effect notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in a lease or tenancy agreement.

Section 24A of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, as amended, provides that the Housing Agency, in consultation with housing authorities, may make a proposal to the Minister that an area should be considered for designation as a Rent Pressure Zone. Following receipt of such a proposal, the Minister requests the Director of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to conduct an assessment of the area to establish whether or not it meets the criteria for designation and to report to the Minister on whether the area should be designated as a Rent Pressure Zone. For the purpose of the Act, ‘area’ is defined as either the administrative area of a housing authority or a local electoral area within the meaning of section 2 of the Local Government Act 2001.

Up until recently, for an area to be designated a Rent Pressure Zone, it must have satisfied the following criteria set out in section 24A(4) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as inserted by section 36 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016):

(i) the annual rate of rent inflation in the area must have been 7% or more in four of the last six quarters; and

(ii) the average rent for tenancies registered in the area with the RTB in the last quarter must be above the average national rent (i.e the National Standardised Rent in the RTB’s Rent Index Report) in the last quarter (€1,169.12 per month in Q1 2019).

However, on 30 May 2019, I signed the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 (Commencement) Order 2019 which appointed 31 May 2019 and 4 June 2019 as the dates on which specified provisions of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 came into effect, including provisions in respect of the average rent qualifying criterion for RPZ designation. Specifically, in terms of criteria (ii) above, the rent of a dwelling in the Greater Dublin Area (Kildare, Wicklow and Meath) will now be compared to the average rent across the country, excluding Dublin rents; and the rent of a dwelling outside of the Greater Dublin Area will be compared to the average rent across the country, excluding Greater Dublin Area rents.

Each quarterly RTB Rent Index Report includes a summary, in Table 9, of the data used to establish whether each Local Electoral Area fulfils the criteria for designation as a Rent Pressure Zone. This ensures transparency in relation to the position of individual areas in terms of average rent levels and increases.

Further information on Rent Pressure Zones and designations is available on my Department's website at www.housing.gov.ie/PUBLICATIONS, by searching 'rent pressure zones - information'.

The Rent Index, which is published each quarter, allows the Housing Agency to recommend areas to be considered for designation using the new criteria as set out in the 2019 Act. Where, following the procedures set out in the Act, it is found that additional areas meet the new criteria, they will be designated as Rent Pressure Zones.

Wastewater Treatment

Questions (1927)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1927. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 1545 of 17 April 2019, when the revision of the grant scheme to householders that incur expenditure directly as a result of having to upgrade their wastewater systems following an inspection by their local authority will be completed and implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34890/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Work is at an advanced stage of development of the new scheme referred to by the Deputy. I expect that the process will be substantially completed over the coming month when the necessary regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable a circular letter, terms and conditions, guidance and the application form to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.

Wastewater Treatment

Questions (1928)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

1928. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the recoupments by his Department to local authorities each year since 2014 in relation to grants for the upgrading of domestic wastewater treatment systems by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34891/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The following table sets out the recoupment by my Department to local authorities each year since 2014 under the funding scheme for on-site wastewater treatment systems (septic tanks).

Local Authority

Amount (€) recouped to Local Authority

Amount (€) recouped to Local Authority

Amount (€) recouped to Local Authority

Amount (€) recouped to Local Authority

Amount(€) recouped to Local Authority

Amount (€) recouped to Local Authority

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 (up to 31/8/2019)

Carlow

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Cavan

0.00

0.00

0.00

2,370.95

8,000.00

2,500.00

Clare

0.00

21,270.53

10,500.00

11,700.00

9,954.40

8,000.00

Cork

0.00

10,098.98

27,132.56

6,276.34

15,385.59

2,732.52

Donegal

0.00

15,281.26

0.00

0.00

0.00

81,987.50

Dublin South

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

4,000.00

Fingal

0.00

2,951.20

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Galway

15,300.06

28,912.20

6,744.00

26,199.44

22,500.00

35,772.87

Kerry

0.00

9,359.06

16,542.38

9,581.18

6,526.39

20,485.06

Kildare

0.00

8,000.00

0.00

4,000.00

9,000.00

0.00

Kilkenny

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

4,000.00

Laois

0.00

0.00

4,000.00

9,448.00

4,000.00

0.00

Leitrim

2,500.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

1,203.10

14,500.00

Limerick

14,500.00

17,661.60

17,238.72

6,500.00

28,250.00

14,931.86

Longford

4,000.00

6,500.00

0.00

0.00

4,000.00

2,500.00

Louth

4,000.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Mayo

0.00

23,818.60

19,538.56

36,923.14

31,501.20

39,778.64

Meath

30,476.00

12,536.20

41,000.00

29,000.00

30,500.00

58,560.49

Monaghan

0.00

17,053.00

12,837.00

0.00

20,448.60

2,500.00

Offaly

0.00

12,126.51

0.00

0.00

8,000.00

0.00

Roscommon

4,000.00

40,251.28

16,000.00

25,000.00

15,296.00

12,000.00

Sligo

11,161.75

22,106.00

8,821.74

4,000.00

4,000.00

0.00

Tipperary

9,741.25

0.00

10,290.78

4,000.00

6,500.00

4,000.00

Waterford

0.00

0.00

4,903.20

0.00

0.00

4,488.00

Westmeath

2,896.20

150.00

3,690.89

0.00

6,354.77

4,000.00

Wexford

0.00

8,482.45

12,760.00

17,822.63

58,078.50

34,550.31

Wicklow

0.00

0.00

0.00

6,500.00

0.00

0.00

Totals

€98,575.26

€256,558.87

€211,999.83

€199,321.68

€289,498.55

€351,287.25

Local Authority Housing Eligibility

Questions (1929, 1952, 1973, 1993, 2002)

Jack Chambers

Question:

1929. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if consideration is being given to amending the financial thresholds for social housing in view of the fact that many persons find themselves outside the threshold but have no other housing options; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34922/19]

View answer

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

1952. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the income limit for family units applying for social housing will be reviewed with a view to raising same (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35387/19]

View answer

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

1973. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the proposed date for the completion of the net income limits for social housing assessments review; when it will be completed and published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35975/19]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

1993. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he plans to publish the review of income eligibility limits for social housing; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the inadequate income limits in areas such as counties Cavan and Monaghan are depriving persons on low income of applying for local authority housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36436/19]

View answer

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

2002. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the reviews of income limits for social housing by local authorities will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36613/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1929, 1952, 1973, 1993 and 2002 together.

Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended.

The 2011 Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy. The 2011 Regulations do not provide local authorities with any discretion to exceed the limits that apply to their administrative areas.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, and the universal social charge. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off in nature.

The income bands are expressed in terms of a maximum net income threshold for a single-person household, with an allowance of 5% for each additional adult household member, subject to a maximum allowance under this category of 10%; and 2.5% for each child, subject to a maximum allowance under this category of 10%.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.

However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is underway. The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

Private Rented Accommodation

Questions (1930, 1931, 1932, 1933)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1930. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount allocated to each local authority to carry out inspections of private rented dwellings in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34940/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1931. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason improvement notices have not been issued in respect of all private rented dwellings which failed to meet the regulatory requirements (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34941/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1932. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of improvement notices in respect of private rented dwellings which resulted in the carrying out of the prescribed works and successful passing of the follow-up inspection by the local authority in each of the years 2014 to 2018, by local authority, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34942/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1933. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of tenancies which have ended as a result of the private rented dwelling failing the local authority inspections; the proportion of same which were registered HAP properties in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34943/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1930 to 1933, inclusive, together.

The Strategy for the Rental Sector, published in December 2016, set out a series of measures to be introduced to ensure the quality of private rental accommodation by strengthening the applicable standards and improving the inspection and enforcement systems.

Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 made under section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. The regulations focus on tenant safety and include measures covering heating appliances, carbon monoxide and window safety. My Department published a guidance document to assist and support local authorities in implementing the Regulations in July 2017. All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these regulations.

Under Section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, responsibility for the enforcement of the Regulations rests with the relevant local authority. Section 18A of the 1992 Act provides that where, in the opinion of a housing authority, a landlord is contravening or has contravened the standards, the authority may issue an improvement notice. It is a matter for the relevant housing authority to decide whether to issue an improvement notice in each individual case.

Between 2005 and 2018, over €39 million has been paid to local authorities to assist them in the performance of their functions under the Housing Acts, including the inspection of rented accommodation. Over 258,000 inspections were carried out during this period.

The Rental Strategy recognises the need for additional resources to be provided to local authorities to aid increased inspections of properties and ensure greater compliance with the Regulations. Exchequer funding of €4.5 million is being made available to local authorities in 2019 for this purpose, with the intention of providing further increases each year in the period to 2021 to facilitate a targeted inspection coverage of 25% of rental properties annually at that stage.

Detailed information in relation to inspections carried out by each local authority since 2005 is available on my Department's website at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-building-and-private-rented/private-housing-market-statistics.

Details of the amounts paid to each local authority since 2014 are set out in the following table:

Year

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Local Authority

County Councils

Carlow

38,300

30,500

35,050

35,500

41,450

Cavan

80,800

63,300

73,400

53,000

64,400

Clare

54,800

56,750

66,250

52,450

56,850

Cork

82,300

61,700

80,950

125,800

91,600

Donegal

57,600

52,200

52,850

92,950

122,850

Dun L Rathdown

51,600

38,450

42,200

50,700

161,750

Fingal

32,950

27,550

36,250

86,450

295,350

Galway

5,950

8,700

3,000

118,800

84,250

Kerry

71,200

224,450

95,450

79,950

105,750

Kildare

63,400

52,450

40,400

46,150

64,500

Kilkenny

44,700

42,750

33,150

94,000

59,600

Laois

17,600

7,700

4,500

17,250

33,400

Leitrim

6,350

8,200

5,500

11,600

19,900

Limerick

41,300

99,050

137,950

106,600

123,600

Longford

5,550

5,050

4,900

7,200

32,700

Louth

2,300

-

-

-

59,984

Mayo

10,200

25,650

10,100

23,000

75,400

Meath

14,300

14,800

11,900

38,500

42,150

Monaghan

38,900

38,700

30,600

42,150

48,150

Tipperary

19,100

10,300

11,000

72,550

104,900

Offaly

5,250

4,150

3,900

12,800

20,650

Roscommon

76,600

74,800

13,550

33,300

39,700

Sligo

88,700

60,972

44,150

33,750

56,450

South Dublin

289,900

189,450

152,350

169,750

208,500

Waterford

89,100

87,800

84,300

113,900

76,300

Westmeath

86,450

90,650

36,450

92,950

59,600

Wexford

90,800

21,050

19,100

41,950

91,650

Wicklow

36,600

-

-

-

-

City Councils

Cork

137,100

111,650

110,750

86,350

76,750

Dublin

369,050

354,250

452,100

240,350

692,750

Galway

17,000

19,650

10,250

22,450

26,750

Total Payment

2,025,750

1,882,672

1,702,300

2,002,150

3,037,634

Information in relation to the number of improvement notices in respect of private rented dwellings which resulted in the carrying out of the prescribed works and successful passing of the follow-up inspection by the local authority as well as the number of tenancies which have ended as a result of the private rented dwelling failing the local authority inspections is not held by my Department.

At the end of Q2 2019, a total of 14,478 households were reported on the HAP Shared Services Centre system as having exited HAP: this included tenant led exits; compliance exits; transfers to other forms of social housing; and landlord exits. This report is based on cessations as submitted by local authorities. Reasons for these cessations are typically provided by the tenant and/or landlord. To end Q2 2019, 399 exits from the scheme were reported as relating to property standards.

Housing Assistance Payment

Questions (1934)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1934. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the criteria used to determine whether a housing assistance payment, HAP, property has passed or failed a standards inspection by the local authority for the purposes of HAP eligibility; the local authorities that employ the building standards regulations in respect of such inspections, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34944/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Assistance Payment Scheme (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 the dwelling was not already inspected within the previous 12 months. Local authorities carry out HAP inspections as a subset of their overall private rented inspections programme.

The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 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. With very limited exemptions, these standards apply to all local authority and voluntary housing units, as well as private rented residential accommodation with a small number of exceptions, such as holiday homes. My Department also published a guidance document to assist and support local authorities in implementing these Regulations.

The HAP legislation provides a very structured, time bound system where serious lack of compliance exists and can result in termination of HAP payment. A property may fail an inspection for a range of reasons, and not all are serious. In many cases, the property owner is required to make small adjustments to come into compliance. If a tenant believes their property does not comply with minimum standards, they should discuss this with the landlord in the first instance.

Failure to comply with the minimum standards can result in penalties and prosecution. Local authorities can issue Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices to landlords who breach the minimum standards regulations. An Improvement Notice sets out the works that the landlord must carry out to remedy a breach of the regulations.

In the case of a Prohibition Notice being enforced, a local authority may provide, or continue to provide, HAP in respect of that property for a period of 13 weeks, to enable the household to find an alternative dwelling.

EU Directives

Questions (1935)

Seán Fleming

Question:

1935. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to discussions at EU level regarding the potential partial liberalisation of the water market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34947/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is not aware of any particular policy proposals at EU level relating to the issue referred to. There is currently a proposal to recast the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the quality of water intended for human consumption, known as the Drinking Water Directive. While the proposed recast Directive makes provision for greater information to be published on the cost, efficiency and quality of water supplies it does not contain proposals in relation to liberalisation of the water market. My Department continues to update the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government on the progress of this proposed Directive.