MORE than 87% of private rented properties inspected by City Hall in the past year failed to meet minimum standards.
Officials from the local authority’s private rental inspection unit (PRIU) visited 506 properties in 2021, 446 of which failed the initial inspection due primarily to structural issues, ventilation, and fire safety.
Despite this high failure rate, the council did not deem any rental properties to be unsuitable for letting. The inspections occurred at a time when the average rent in Cork City had risen by over €100 in the past year to €1,389.07, an increase of 9.3%.
The most common reasons for failure were inadequate ventilation, and a lack of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, evacuation plans, and window restrictors.
Landlords whose properties failed to meet minimum standards for rental were issued with “improvement letters”, essentially a list of improvements necessary to pass the inspection and a timeline in which to carry them out.
It is estimated there are over 20,000 private rental properties in Cork City, and only 506 of those properties were checked by the PRIU, leaving the city with an approximate inspection rate of just over 2%.
A spokesperson for Cork City Council told The Echo: “For the best part of 2020 and until July 2021, in accordance with the CCMA [County and City Management Association] guidelines, no private rental inspections were permitted under the Covid-19 restrictions … [however] exceptional cases were managed, where deemed absolutely necessary”.
Before the 2019 boundary extension, which saw Cork City expand to almost five times its then-size, there were just under 18,000 private rental properties in the city, according to figures published by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
In the four years prior to the expansion, officials from Cork City Council visited an average of 700 private rental properties per year, giving a yearly average inspection rate of approximately 4%.
Cork City North West Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent said the figures were disappointing but not surprising.
“The information I’ve received on a number of occasions from Cork City Council is that a high number of private rented properties are failing on the first inspection,” Mr Nugent said.
“Even pre-Covid, the vast majority of rental accommodations were not being inspected, even though it’s supposed to be mandatory for properties where tenants are in receipt of the housing assistance payment.
“It’s just another symptom of the ongoing housing crisis,” councillor Nugent said.