Dáil debates

Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Priority Questions.

Property Management.

1:00 pm

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Question 76: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether inadequate legislation in respect of the management of apartment complexes in the private sector, including in the community and voluntary sector, is a serious matter which must be addressed as a matter of urgency in light of the growing number of such developments particularly in the Dublin region. [16537/05]

Photo of Noel AhernNoel Ahern (Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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Apartment complex management companies are generally constituted as companies under the Companies Acts and are required to comply with the provisions of company law, which is a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The operation of such companies under their relevant memorandum and articles of association, including the employment of any property manager or management entity, is a matter for their members, who are the owners of the properties in the developments to which they relate.

Arising from a commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government, a Law Reform Commission working group is examining the law on the management of apartment complexes and other multi-unit developments. The group's report is being drafted. The Law Reform Commission has already suggested to the company law review group, under the aegis of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, certain modifications in the application of general company law requirements to management companies for multi-unit developments. These or any further proposals for legislative changes in this area arising from the Law Reform Commission review will be a matter for consideration by the Government.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Does the Minister of State agree that regulation of the management of apartment complexes is as necessary as regulation of the private rented sector? If apartment living is to become a viable option for the future, people must be assured that the management companies of such complexes will be accountable and will not be permitted to introduce extortionate management fees, as is the case currently. At a minimum, I ask the Minister of State and the Department to commit to an assessment of the problems related to management companies in complexes so that, irrespective of our views on the significant problems that exist, we can prepare legislation to address them.

Photo of Noel AhernNoel Ahern (Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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We should differentiate between management companies, which are companies set up by different owners in apartments, and the management agency that is brought in by a management company to do basic work around the complex. Sometimes there are problems when a development is under construction and there is a delay in finalising work. The developer may bring in a management agency to look after basic work but once the development is completed, it is the responsibility and duty of the individual owners to get involved. We all meet people in apartment complexes who are owner occupiers who complain about the management agencies but it is up to them to go to the annual general meeting of the management company and exert authority about the level of service they require. If a management agency brought in to do basic work does not perform, they should be simply sacked. The Law Reform Commission is examining issues about the constitution and operation of such companies and its report will be available in the next couple of months. While it is not under my direct control, the work it has done on this issue is advanced. Its report will give an opportunity to examine this area.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Some of what the Minister of State said is correct. I look forward to the report of the working group from the Law Reform Commission. Will the Government implement whatever recommendations the working group makes? Will the Minister of State commence an assessment of these problems?

Photo of Noel AhernNoel Ahern (Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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We must see what the working group recommends as much of it may concern other Departments. While the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will be involved, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform will be involved from a conveyancing viewpoint. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment will be involved from a management company view. We will see what needs to be done when the Law Reform Commission produces its report.

I accept legal procedures were always in place. However, the situation is fast-changing and approximately 20% of new dwelling units in the State are apartments, while in Dublin the figure is 40%. Many problems in this area have to do with transparency. People should know before they move into an apartment of these arrangements. However, I accept some people may be just concerned at getting the keys to a place to live and not think forward. If information is given to people in advance, they will know of their responsibilities and can then work with them.