MORE than 77% of private rental properties inspected by City Hall failed to meet minimum standards last year.
Officials from the local authority’s Private Rental Inspection Unit (PRIU) visited 739 properties, 571 of which failed initial inspections due to structural issues, heating, ventilation and fire safety.
Despite this, no properties were deemed unsuitable for letting by the council. The inspections were carried out in 2018 as rents were soaring. The current average rent in the city is €1,366.
The most common reasons for failure were a lack of fire alarms, fire blankets, evacuation plans, vents, carbon monoxide alarms, and window restrictors.
Up to April this year, around 120 homes were inspected, with three-quarters failing. Letters were issued asking landlords to rectify the issues raised.
The number of inspections carried out last year represents around 4% of rental stock in the city, with almost 18,000 properties listed by the Residential Tenancies Board.
The Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Strategy for the Rental Sector states that local authorities should have an inspection rate of 25% by 2021.
City Hall director of housing Brian Geaney said he expects the number of inspections to increase this year.
“The [PRIU] has been substantially augmented in terms of resources in 2019 with much more inspections and follow-up expected by this year’s end,” he said.
Green Party councillor Dan Boyle claimed the low rate of inspections sparked by tenant complaints is based on a fear that people will be forced out of their accommodation and forced to pay higher rents elsewhere.
“Given that 97% of these inspections and spot checks are initiated by the council, is there a need for a strategic approach to try to seek a more realistic figure from tenants in private rented accommodation?” he asked.
“It’s obvious that people in bad private rented accommodation are afraid to make such complaints because they will end up having to seek other accommodation at higher prices.”
However, Mr Geaney replied that tenants should not need to initiate contact with the local authority.
“Resources in the private rental inspection unit have been considerably increased in 2019. I am satisfied now that the resources are there now to carry out a greater level of inspections going forward.
“Really, it shouldn’t be up to tenants to contact Cork City Council. There is an inspection regime there and we should see a substantial increase in the number of inspections.”
Under housing regulations, rented properties must meet minimum standards relating to structure, sanitary facilities, food preparation, storage and laundry facilities, heating, lighting, ventilation and safety of oil, electricity, and gas installations — as well as fire safety and refuse facilities.