The Programme for Government sets out a number of commitments in respect of the important policy area of addressing building defects. Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030, reiterates these commitments.
I brought a Memorandum to Government on an enhanced Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme on 30 November 2021. It included an unprecedented suite of improvements to the current scheme. The required primary legislation to give effect to the enhanced scheme will include a provision for the Minister to introduce a scheme of grant assistance for local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to remediate social homes in their ownership which have been impacted by defective concrete blocks.
Separately, the Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme. The provisions of the Act apply only to dwellings affected by significant damage attributable to pyritic heave consequent on the presence of reactive pyrite in the subfloor hardcore material. AHBs are eligible to apply to the Pyrite Remediation Scheme. Section 3 of the Scheme outlines the eligibility criteria applicable to all applicants. A total of 3 AHBs have participated in the Scheme to date and 60 dwellings owned by AHBs have been included in the Scheme with a further 18 currently at stages 1 and 2 (validation and verification stages).
Finally, a Working Group to examine defects in housing 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, adopted in May 2021, 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, including the AHB sector. As part of this stakeholder engagement, the Working Group conducted a series of online surveys between 31 January and 14 March 2022 seeking the experiences of homeowners, landlords, Directors of Owners’ Management Companies and Property Management Agents. These submissions are currently being analysed.
The insights gained through engagement with stakeholders as well as the outcome of the online consultation are informing the ongoing deliberations of the Working Group and are supporting the delivery on its extensive terms of reference and finalisation of its report.
I am satisfied that the Working Group is working effectively and efficiently on this complex matter, and will require sufficient time to complete its work. In that context, 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.