Both the Programme for Government and Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030, set out a range of commitments in respect of the important policy area of building defects. This includes the commitment to ensure that the remediation fund for pyrite and mica is fully drawn down. In this context, €60m has been provided under Budget 2022 to continue to support the implementation of the Pyrite Remediation Scheme and the Defective Concrete Blocks Grants Scheme.
Separately, there is a commitment to examine the issue of defects in housing, having regard to the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing report, “Safe as Houses” and to assist owners of latent defect properties by identifying options for those impacted by defects to access low cost, long term finance.
In this regard, I established a working group to examine defects in housing. This working group has been meeting monthly since March 2021 (except for August). In addition, regular subgroup meetings take place to advance elements of the work. The group’s terms of reference are focused on fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects in purpose built apartment buildings, including duplexes, constructed between 1991 and 2013.
As part of its deliberations, the working group is consulting with a wide range of relevant stakeholders and has conducted a series of online surveys seeking the experiences of homeowners, landlords, Directors of Owners’ Management Companies and Property Management Agents. The insights gained through engagement with stakeholders as well as the outcome of the online consultation will inform the ongoing deliberations of the Working Group and support the delivery on its extensive terms of reference and finalisation of its report. I look forward to a report later this year following completion of their consultations and deliberations. Once I receive the report I will give full consideration to its contents.
In general, the statutory position is clear in terms of where responsibilities; 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. In addition, local authorities also have similar powers under the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003, the Housing Acts and the Planning and Development Acts, which may be relevant where concerns arise in residential developments.
Any concerns a person has regarding health and safety or structural stability should be investigated by a competent building professional or the relevant service provider as a matter of urgency. A building professional (or the relevant service provider) will be able to advise on the severity of the issue and the appropriate action that should be taken to mitigate any health and safety risk.