Thursday, 12 December 2019

Ceisteanna (358)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

358. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is considering establishing a redress scheme for faulty apartment developments in which there are fire hazards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52181/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I want to acknowledge the very stressful circumstances which owners and residents face when defects occur in their homes. In general building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, that is the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme.

The State has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings. Nor could the taxpayer afford such a role. It is not possible for the State to take on responsibility/liability for all legacy issues nor would it send the right message to the industry regarding their responsibility for compliance.

Local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Building Control Acts, the Fire Services Acts, the Housing Acts and the Planning and Development Acts, to ensure that parties discharge their statutory responsibilities.

In relation to developments where concerns over fire safety issues arise, when a building is constructed and occupied, statutory responsibility for safety is assigned by section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 & 2003, to the ‘person having control’ of the building. The person having control is required to take reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire and to ensure the safety of persons in the event of fire. 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 and Equality), 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.

In the interest of supporting owners and residents living in developments where concerns regarding non-compliance with fire safety requirements arise, it was agreed that a review be undertaken by an independent fire expert to develop a framework for general application. In August 2017, the Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings was published, which is intended to be used as a guide by the owners and occupants of dwellings where fire safety deficiencies have been identified, or are a cause for concern. The Framework will also be of assistance to professional advisors, both in developing strategies to improve fire safety and in developing strategies to enable continued occupation in advance of undertaking the necessary works to ensure compliance with the relevant Building Regulations. The Framework is available on my Department's website at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/framework_for_enhancing_fire_safety_in_dwellings.pdf.