Thursday, 21 November 2019
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Local Authority Housing Maintenance
I welcome the Minister of State who is here on behalf of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy.
The issue I am raising is subsidence in former local authority houses. There is an estate in Limerick that was built in the 1960s by the local authority. By the late 1970s the local authority admitted there was a problem with the estate. It had to knock down half of it and one of the avenues adjacent to it and rebuild the houses. At that stage, cracking and a number of issues were found due to subsidence in the houses. The local authority applied to the State for funding. The money was provided and the houses were rebuilt. Those houses are fine, but the houses that were not knocked down at the time are beginning to show subsidence. The estate appears to have been built on quarry land.
The residents got an engineer to examine the structure of the houses. They believe an amount of work must be done. They might have to be piled at the bottom. The most interesting thing is that the ground rent for the houses is still owned by the local authority, although a number of them have been purchased. Can anything be done to help the residents whose houses are subsiding?
I thank Senator Byrne for raising this important issue and for the opportunity to respond on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy.
At the outset, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government does not have a funding stream available to address the precise set of circumstances relating to subsidence which the Senator has outlined. The only information the Department has on the matter is derived from the details that the Senator kindly provided. I understand from this information that the houses concerned were built in the 1960s and that they are former local authority properties that are now in private ownership. This is a matter for Limerick City and County Council in the first instance. The people affected by these issues should raise them directly with the council, which is best placed to examine possible solutions. At least some of the homes may have been the subject of tenant purchase, possibly several decades ago. Again, if these properties were purchased from the council, it illustrates the need to follow up with the council in the first instance.
From the Department's contact with the council, I understand that the council has had no recent contact from homeowners on these issues. This is to the best of our knowledge in the short time available to check, and the council is carrying out further checks on the matter. Regrettably, I cannot comment further, beyond stating that it must be addressed with the council, which will be in touch with the Department if it is a case that further intervention is needed. I emphasise that this is a matter for the council and the Department would simply not be aware of such issues. However, there is the option that if the homeowners refer to the council, the council will refer to the Department.