One in five of rental homes sub standard
OUTCRY: Only tiny number of rogue landlords prosecuted
ONE-in-five rental properties are still failing to meet the minimum legal standards, a senator has revealed.
Despite this, only a tiny fraction of landlords are being prosecuted for the breaches, Fine Gael Senator Paschal Donohoe said.
Of the 19,800 rental properties inspected nationwide in 2009, 4,306 failed to meet minimum legal thresholds, new figures show.
However, local authorities last year took only three landlords to court for letting out substandard homes.
"Rogue landlords are causing huge distress for residents and tenants in every town and city in Ireland," Mr Donohoe said.
"Despite the fact that the Government has brought in new legal standards to deal with them and local authorities have spent €20m since 2004 trying to deal with this problem, a huge number of properties are still not complying with the law," he added.
Mr Donohoe said: "Figures that I have obtained clearly show that while the number of inspections is up, the number of court prosecutions is down.
"It simply is not credible to claim that only three landlords in the entire country merited prosecution when the scale of the problem is clear on every road and street in the country."
While welcoming the increase in inspections last year, he said it showed the true scale of the problem.
"What is worrying, however, is the fact that there was just a 1pc prosecution rate in 2007, with 25 prosecutions resulting from 2,379 substandard properties.
"That figure dropped to a shocking .069pc last year with just three prosecutions arising from 4,306 below par properties," Mr Donohoe said.
He wants to see any new regulations "fully implemented".
Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008.
Junior Housing Minister Michael Finneran said responsibility for enforcing the regulations rests with "the relevant local authority, supported by a dedicated stream of funding allocated by my department".
"This funding increased significantly between 2005 and 2009, rising from €1.5m to €4m. For 2010, I have allocated a total sum of €5.6m to housing authorities for the purpose of carrying out their functions under the Housing Acts in relation to rented accommodation," he said.
"This is an increase of €1.6m on the amount allocated for this purpose in 2009 and will bring total funding for this purpose since 2004 to over €20m."
Mr Finneran said, in general, local authorities have significantly expanded their inspection activity in recent years.
The number of inspections has "more than doubled, from 6,815 to 17,202, in the period 2005 to 2008".