The ongoing maintenance of private housing developments is a matter for the owners of the properties in question. A private management company, which must comprise the owners of all of the properties in a development, is required where there are common areas, structural elements and services and/or any grounds, open spaces, car parking or roadways that are not generally accessible to members of the public (i.e. non-residents or visitors). This applies to apartment buildings, housing developments that include ‘multi-unit’ housing types such as apartments or duplexes and to gated housing schemes, holiday homes and retirement villages.
Legislation governing the management of multi-unit developments is addressed by the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, which is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality. This Act regulates the ownership and management of common areas of multi-unit developments, and provides for the establishment of owners’ management companies to manage and maintain such areas.
The Act defines common areas as including:
- The external walls, foundations and roofs and internal load-bearing walls;
- The entrance halls, landings, lifts, lift shafts, staircases and passages;
- The access roads, footpaths, kerbs, paved, planted and landscaped areas, and boundary walls;
- Architectural and water features;
- All ducts and conduits, other than those within and serving only one unit in the development;
- Cisterns, tanks, sewers, drains, pipes, wires, central heating boilers, other than such items within and serving only one unit in the development;
- Other areas that are from time-to-time provided for common use.
While the ongoing maintenance of individual private houses in non-multi unit housing developments remains a matter for the owners of the individual properties, external common areas such as open spaces, car parking or roadways that are accessible to members of the public (i.e. non-residents or visitors), may be ‘taken in charge’ and maintained thereafter by the relevant local authority.
This is addressed by the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), whereby residential developments consisting of two or more dwellings that have been granted planning permission under Section 34 the 2000 Act (as amended), may be eligible for taking in charge, subject to the type of development and its satisfactory completion.
The taking in charge of residential estates by local authorities is governed by Section 180 of the 2000 Act and is a reserved function of local elected members of that authority. In certain situations, it is possible for the local authority to hold a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the homeowners in a development.