Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Questions (731)

John Lahart

Question:

731. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the steps his Department has taken or the assistance that is available to those residents of apartment complexes who have experienced issues with their balconies only to discover that redress from the builder or developer is statute-barred and they have to foot enormous costs personally through their management companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15750/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

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 2020 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.

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 and provides for an examination of defects in housing, having regard to the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing report, "Safe as Houses".

In this regard, my Department is actively engaging with key stakeholders and I have had several meetings with stakeholder representative groups on this matter over recent months. My Department is currently working to finalise the structures to examine the issue of defects in housing 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.

Question No. 732 answered with Question No. 698.