SOUTHSIDE councillor Jim Long fears houses in city estates are not valued high enough to be insured.
With regeneration officials purchasing houses from people for as little as €55,000 in some cases, Cllr Long says this means that houses in Southill, Moyross, and Ballinacurra Weston are too low in value to qualify for the excess needed in case of damage.
At this month’s full council meeting, housing official Noreen Fahey told Cllr Long that the council has public/employers liability cover in place for all local authority homes. It is subject to a €127,000 excess.
Cllr Long believes that this means many houses are not covered by other insurances, because independent insurance companies only provide cover above a certain value.
“My information is clear: regeneration bought houses for €60,000. They devalued the stock of social housing. I think someone must have asked: why are we paying a premium for a house worth €60,000, with an excess of €127,000?”
This came to light when Cllr Long attempted to help a southside family whose home had been damaged by a fire.
He was told the €15,000 maintenance bill would not be met by the council, and claimed he was told this was because the home was not insured.
Ms Fahey said: “Fire damage cover on City Council rented stock is based on self-insurance by the Council and remedial works, as a consequence of fire, are undertaken through the housing maintenance budget.”
Cllr Long is seeking further clarification on this matter.
Elsewhere, Fianna Fail councillor Kieran O’Hanlon said City Council is being “negligent landlords” in some of the houses in which it lets.
“Are we in a position in the local authority to offer housing insulation? It is a minimum standard to have houses heated reasonably,” he asked.
After Ms Fahey told him energy efficiency grants are only availavle for vacant properties, and no such facility is present for occupied homes, Cllr O’Hanlon said communication should be made with Minister Phil Hogan on the matter.
He also wants to see the council introduce a housing surrender scheme outside the regeneration areas.
“A constituent of mine can no longer maintain her home because of her age. Is there any scheme available where rthat person can surrendr his house for an agreed price and relet it,” Cllr O’Hanlon asked.
Fine Gael councillor Michael Hourigan asked that the Limerick Institute of Technology be consulted on the redevelopment of neighbouring Moyross.
This is in view of the ambitious redevelopment proposals the college has.