Anger grows at plight faced by tenants in Cork

Anger grows at plight faced by tenants in Cork

AS city rents hit €1,144 and dozens face eviction, it is revealed that more than 80% of rental properties in Cork are failing basic rent inspections.

130 of 160 properties inspected by Cork City Council so far this year have failed to meet standards, with ventilation, fire safety, structural condition and electricity and gas issues among the most pressing issues.

Figures released by Cork City Council officials to the Evening Echo show that the failure rate is getting worse, with just 71% of properties failing to comply last year.

Of great concern, though, is the fact that of approximately 17,500 rental properties registered with the Residential Tenancies Board in Cork city, just 935 were inspected since the beginning of last year, accounting for just 5% of all rental properties in the city.

The news comes just days after city centre rents hit new heights and the number of available units continues to reach record lows.

This morning, property website showed just 30 properties to rent in Cork city centre.

Last night, Solidarity TD Mick Barry revealed in the Dáil that some 70 households in Leeside Apartments on Bachelors Quay have received letters ordering them to leave their homes, leaving hundreds on the verge of homelessness.

Mr Barry said, "People are really upset. They know that the rental market is extremely difficult. One woman, in a €700-per-month apartment, told me she found asking prices of €1,000 to €1,300 and that there were queues around the block of 50 people chasing one apartment."

However, a statement from Lugus Capital on the refurbishment of Leeside Apartments said there were 23 tenancies in the building, not 70.

"Cork’s Leeside Apartments are to undergo a €3 million refurbishment, with works to commence in December 2017. Leeside Apartments are currently not in compliance with their fire certificates, so the refurbishment is necessary not only to bring the building up to modern standards but also to maintain the safety of the residents. Lugus Capital acquired the building at the start of October 2017, and as part of their acquisition process, they carried out a full structural survey and fire safety inspection."

"Currently, there are only 23 residential tenancies at Leeside Apartments. All residential tenants have been issued notices, with full notice periods corresponding to the length of their tenancy," the statement said.

The plight of Cork renters continues to grow, with dwindling numbers of available properties, huge rents, which are still on the increase, and a growing number of evictions.

The large number of properties failing rental inspections in the city centre has prompted concern among city representatives, who are also critical of the low number of inspections.

Just 5% of all rental properties in the city were inspected since the beginning of last year, prompting fears that many are living in sub-standard conditions. Many of those who facing terminations of their tenancies will have few options, with many properties not up to standard, according to Fianna Fáil councillor Kenneth O’Flynn.

The northside councillor has accused landlords of taking advantage of the limited options facing tenants, many of whom have the choice of sub-standard accommodation or none at all.

“City Council will give you the excuse that they have very few staff to carry out these inspections but it proves the entire situation in the city is not fit for purpose,” Mr O’Flynn said.

“What I’m very concerned about is that many of our citizens are living in sub-standard accommodation and appaling conditions. There are many slum landlords here in Cork, Limerick and Dublin.

“Funds must be made available immediately [for inspections]. People are paying extraordinary rents and deserve far better,” he added.

Fine Gael councilor John Buttimer has said the low number of inspections highlights the lack of resources in the city. He has called for more staff to carry out both announced and unannounced inspections.

“I am asking that the inspection figures be published on a quarterly basis and if we can, we should increase the number of staff available to do inspections,” he said.

“Some of the inspections are on the basis of a notification of complaints but we also need to extend the process to randomised inspections.”

In the county, just 3% of private rented properties passed minimum standard inspections in 2016, with just over 4% of 18,835 registered properties visited by county officials.

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