ALMOST one third of housing-assistance payment (HAP) properties under the remit of Cork City Council that were inspected in 2020 failed to meet standards.
In 2020, there were 1,716 HAP properties under Cork City Council’s remit.
943 HAP tenancies began in 2020, and while, in some cases, there can be multiple tenancies at a HAP property, just 176 properties were inspected, with 53 failing to meet standards.
The local authority is supposed to inspect a HAP property within eight months of the first HAP payment being made to the landlord, to make sure it meets the standards.
A spokesperson for Cork City Council’s housing department said:
“Arrangements are in place to have all outstanding inspections completed once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.”
However, in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, 1,255 new HAP tenancies were registered with the local authority.
City Hall has explained that over 300 HAP tenancies were transferred from Cork County Council when the boundary extended.
Of that 1,255, just 441 properties were inspected.
The failure rate on first inspection was more than 65%, with 290 of the properties failing to reach the adequate standard.
By comparison, in 2016, of the 288 HAP properties inspected, 123 failed to meet standards. In 2017, just 166 units were inspected, of which 47 failed.
Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent said:
“My understanding is that while there is supposed to be a mandatory check in the first eight months of the tenancy, that may not be happening across the board and that tenants who have an issue with a HAP property are encouraged to make a complaint.”
However, Mr Nugent said many tenants don’t feel comfortable doing so: “A lot of those people might be falling through the cracks.”
The number of properties failing inspection on the first visit shows issues with the quality of accommodation being provided, Mr Nugent said.
“The figures suggest that checks aren’t happening to the level that they should be, considering the amount of new tenancies,” he added.
HAP is a social-housing support, operated by Cork City Council, which replaces the rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need in Cork city.
As part of a HAP tenant’s application, the landlord of each property must self-certify that the property meets the required standards.