Limerick council set to consider deposit scheme to tackle anti-social tenants

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Councillors were left shocked at the condition of some of the gardens in the city, including the one above, which was presented to them at the meeting

Councillors were left shocked at the condition of some of the gardens in the city, including the one above, which was presented to them at the meeting

CALLS have been made on Limerick council to step up inspections of its housing stock.

It comes after councillors were shown shocking images of poorly maintained homes and gardens at this week’s Home and Social Development Strategic Policy committee.

The council is hoping to be given money in next year’s budget to put “more boots on the ground” in terms of enforcement officers, with housing officer Rob Lowth even suggesting a deposit scheme could be put in place to stop wanton damage to properties and gardens.

Labour councillor Joe Leddin said: “I’d suggest we increase the house inspections to possibly once every three months. The warning signs are there and it's not good enough at the moment.”

l​ndependent member John Gilligan added: “We need an enforcement officer for St Mary's Park. They deal with the regeneration areas. We need someone that we can do to. It’s very important to have that person, and give them teeth, give them 100% backing.”

Fianna Fail’s Jerry O’Dea asked: “What teeth can you give the enforcement officers? What we see here is sheer neglect and littering. It's like no other area.”

Housing officer Aoife Duke​ said: “We are more than aware of parts of estates being neglected. We are hopefully getting a provision for this in the budget. We will be getting more boots on the ground. These homes are bad, but they are the exception.”

Mr Lowth added: “We do not want to be back in a situation where we are giving a house then opening a Pandora's Box. We are considering a deposit scheme where residents will only receive this money back if the home is handed back in the same condition to which it arrived.”

Separately, Sinn Fein councillor Malachy McCreesh called for additional maintenance funding to facilitate an immediate response to outstanding requests from council tenants.

“Repairs considered essential have been left unresolved for a number of years due to lack of funding allocation. This is specifically highlighted in the number of houses awaiting window and door replacement,” the City West member said.

In response, Seamus Hanrahan said plans are in place for a maintenance programme, being paid for through a €15m loan, repayable over the next 20 years.