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Rental Sector

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (350)

Claire Kerrane

Ceist:

350. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of HAP properties inspected in County Galway by Galway County Council in 2018, 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form. [29845/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019.  All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these Regulations. Responsibility for enforcement of the Regulations rests with the relevant local authority. 

Local authorities report to my Department on numbers of overall inspections carried out and enforcement actions undertaken on a quarterly basis. The most recent data received in respect of the number of inspections of all private rental properties and those with HAP tenancies is set out in the table below: 

HAP Inspections carried out in 2019  

Total    Inspections carried out in 2019        

HAP On-site Inspections carried out in    2020        

Total On-site Inspections carried out in 2020      

HAP Virtual Inspections   

   carried out in 2020      

Total Virtual Inspections carried out in 2020      

23,424

40,728

12,031

24,315

991

1,388

 

The following is the HAP Inspections breakdown for Galway County Council:

 

Inspections of HAP  Dwellings  

2018

661

2019

719

2020

808

2021 to end of Q1

    7

Significant Exchequer funding has been made available to local authorities in recent years to aid increasing inspections.  Funding has increased four-fold from €2.5m in 2018 to €10m in 2021. The increase in rental inspection figures in Galway reflects this increase in resources. Galway has been pro-active with regard to inspections and their 2020 figure would most likely be higher if not for Covid.

Given the need for inspectors to enter tenants’ homes, Covid-19 pandemic restrictions have impacted on the inspection of all rented dwellings – not just those with HAP tenancies. The City and County Management Association’s Local Authority Resilience and Recovery Plan for living with Covid-19 (October 2020) and its subsequent Local Authority Services Framework for Future Covid-19 Pandemic Response (January 2021) do not permit rental inspections in Levels 4 and 5. This is in order to protect tenants, landlords and rental inspectors.

In response to the difficulties caused by pandemic restrictions, some local authorities have been piloting virtual inspections. Dublin City Council have led this initiative which entails landlords receiving a checklist for self-assessment and being required to submit photographic/video evidence by email, tenants being invited to raise any non-compliance issues they are aware of and being asked to confirm that any remedial works requested by the local authority have been completed, and the Council reserving the right to conduct a physical on-site inspection when it is safe to so.

While virtual inspection systems present certain challenges and limitations, they do offer a way of improving the standard of rental accommodation despite the pandemic. I support these initiatives and my Department is encouraging local authorities not involved in the pilots to consider adopting them. I have committed to providing Exchequer funding for those that do. Galway County Council have expressed interest in the virtual inspection process.

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