A FINE GAEL local election candidate has called on Limerick City and County Council to “rethink” how it funds and supports its private rental inspections.
Limerick city west candidate, Frank Mulqueen issued a statement saying that the “lack of support” for these inspections, which are legally required to be carried out, may lead to people’s health and safety being “put at risk”.
Figures from council officials reveal that only 583 units were inspected in 2012, out of 6,483 in the Limerick City Council catchment area.
Mr Mulqueen said that this means each unit has to wait 11 years before an inspection, as there is only one full-time inspector employed. He added that this raises concerns as landlords are “not upgrading their properties to match these steep price hikes”.
“What is worrying is that the council have provided funding for just one member of staff who must be, I have been informed, a qualified engineer. Funding has been allocated for this fiscal year for 500 inspections. This worryingly means on average a property can only be inspected once every 11 years at the current rate. This figure does not include any council properties,” he stated.
The Fine Gael member said the one full-time inspector is “not enough” for the 6,483 units they have to inspect in the future. However, he expressed more concern over “rogue” landlords who are ignoring their legal and moral obligations.
“Compounding this issue worse is the lack of punishment for rogue landlords who are flouting their legal and moral obligations. They can fight orders through the courts and objections and all the while it is the tenant who may be unaware of the dangers of simply living in their accommodation that’s burdens the risk. And if they choose to leave they may be considered in breach of their tenancy and lose their deposit.”
Though there is no pass-fail system to the best extent, according to Mr Mulqueen, he believes that the 2% fail rate is high as many of the inspections come from tenant reports. However he added that there may be concerned tenants “suffering in silence”.
“While a pass-failure system is not maintained to an extent as certain issues which can lead to a failure are rectified easily such as a lack of fire blankets overall the council found that 2% of units were deemed uninhabitable and unsuitable for habitation.
“This is still a very high level and considering many of the inspections are coming from tenant reports. I would have to worry are the margins of our society suffering in silence?”
“From researching around the country and attaining information from tenant rights advocates organisations such as Threshold this is a growing issue across all forms of rental accommodation.
“If something isn’t done soon it is only a matter of time before something happens. As we have seen in reports lately the conditions of some rental properties is appalling and without City Council help these people are effectively trapped due to finances,” Mr Mulqueen said.