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Funding cuts for inspections on rented accommodation 'a serious health and safety issue'

Serious health and safety concerns have been raised over poor regulation of the private rental sector.

Figures supplied to RTÉ Investigates under Freedom of information reveal that only 4% of the 325,000 registered rental properties in Ireland were inspected last year and of those that were inspected, more than two-thirds were not compliant with the regulations.

Fianna Fáil TD John Curran, chairman of the Housing and Homelessness Committee, warned that funding cuts have left local authorities without sufficient resources to regulate the rental market or identify cases of extreme negligence by landlords.

Recently released Government statistics show that funding to local authorities to conduct inspections fell from €2.4m in 2012 to €1.7m in 2016, Mr Curran said.

"The housing crisis has left countless people and families unable to afford the rising cost of rent, especially in Dublin, and they have therefore been left with no choice but to live in poor quality accommodation," he warned.

Mr Curran said it was clear that the local authorities "do not have the sufficient resources required to regulate the quality of units on the rental market or identify cases of extreme negligence by landlords".

"It's a contradiction to suggest that the Government are taking housing standards seriously and aim to accelerate inspections, yet stand by repeated cuts to funding," he added.

Mr Curran demanded that the local authorities be properly financed to adequately enforce laws and inspect units to safeguard against breaches of standards in the private rental sector.

"Urgent effort is needed to increase funding to local authorities so that they can intensify inspections," he said.

"This is a serious matter of citizen's health and safety and cannot wait."