Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the very stressful circumstances which owners and residents face when their homes are affected by construction defects.
In general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme.
Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014 primary responsibility for compliance of works with the requirements of the Building Regulations, rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings.
Enforcement of the Building Regulations is a matter for the 31 local building control authorities who have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts and who are independent in the use of their statutory powers, subject to a statute of limitation of 5 years from the date of completion of the building or the construction works.
When a building is constructed and occupied, statutory responsibility for fire safety is assigned by section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 & 2003, to the ‘person having control’ of the building. In multi-unit developments, the "person having control" is generally the owner management company.
Under the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, which is under the remit of the Minister for Justice, the owner management company must establish a scheme for annual service charges and a sinking fund for spending on refurbishment, improvement or maintenance of a non-recurring nature of the multi-unit development.
The Programme for Government sets out a number of commitments in respect of the important policy area of building defects. My Department is actively engaging with all key stakeholders on this programme of work. In this regard, I've had a number of meetings with stakeholder representative groups on this matter over recent months. My Department is currently preparing to establish the structures to examine the issue of defective housing, this will include apartment buildings, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government.
Separately, in regard to the specific issue of balcony defects, under Sections 2 and 3 of the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Act 1964, a local authority has powers in relation to dangerous structures.
I would encourage anyone who has concerns with regard to the structural safety of their property to engage the services of a construction professional without delay. It is also advisable to bring any safety concerns to the attention of the relevant local authority, who can provide information and advice in the matter.