Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 19 November 2019
Select Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Bill 2019: Committee Stage
I deal with many constituents who are in AHBs.
I speak as a Deputy rather than as a councillor and I appreciate the points made. Once there is the consent of the individual involved, I never have a problem making representations, having meetings or pursuing an issue to the full extent with an AHB. Deputy Boyd Barrett made the point that if there is not a statutory right, there should a statutory forum, where one would have the legal right to approach one's elected representative, such a councillor or Deputy. Perhaps that would cover the issue.
I have found that AHBs are interested, concerned and want to ensure that people are as satisfied as possible, but there are significant differences. I am not sure that tenants of AHBs have a right ever to purchase their home and, therefore, they are at a disadvantage. A further disadvantage is that as one's life changes, one may wish to move to a local authority housing estate, perhaps for family reasons or because it is nearer the school one's child attends. There are certainly issues in that regard. To date in any event, I have never found an AHB that does not want to meet the requirements of the tenant, although the cases the Deputy outlined are more complex because they are part of other, privately-developed housing. I would not disagree with ensuring a right to an audience with an elected representative but the matter cannot be brought to a council because it will not be responsible, which is the difficulty. I do not know whether the regulator will want to get into the area, but the right to make a representation to one's elected representative should be a core legal part of the relationship, even though, in my experience, that is the case in practice.