Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Private Rented Accommodation
Question 119: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures which have been put in place to police the new action programme to promote the improvement of standards in private rented accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30952/06]
Question 145: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he agrees with Threshold that existing minimum standards for the private rented sector are primitive and outdated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30954/06]
Question 185: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he intends to take to improve on the rate of inspection of rented properties which came to just 6,815 out of a total of 150,000 in 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30956/06]
Question 207: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the statement by the Chairperson of Threshold (details supplied) who says that diners who can afford to eat in a restaurant are better protected by quality standards and inspections than a family on low income living in a rented home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30955/06]
Question 210: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the findings of Threshold that show that appeals for help from tenants living in unfit accommodation doubled last year, from 386 in 2004 to 785 in 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30953/06]
Noel Ahern (Minister of State, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 119, 145, 185, 207 and 210 together.
Despite a significant expansion in the availability of good quality rental accommodation in recent years, there is still a proportion of sub-standard units as well as some which are seriously deficient.
The new Partnership agreement, Towards 2016, includes a commitment that the minimum standards regulations for the private rented sector will be updated and effectively enforced. I took the opportunity when launching Threshold's 2005 Annual Report in mid September to announce a comprehensive Action Programme to address the standards issue involving a combination of improved resourcing, co-ordination, planning and prioritisation.
An important element of the Action Programme will be a general review of the content of the existing standards regulations which will commence later this year with a view to updating them. This will be carried out in consultation with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), local authorities and other relevant interests.
There is also a clear need to increase the number of inspections of private rented accommodation undertaken by housing authorities. In that regard housing authorities are being asked to prioritise action to improve enforcement of the regulations through a planned and strategic approach. Increased funding is also being provided. Interim payments in respect of 2006 totalling €1m were recently distributed and a further payment in respect of 2006 will be made in early 2007 based on 2006 inspection levels. Future funding will be related to the level of enforcement performance by housing authorities as evidenced by their returns for the Department's Housing Statistics Bulletin.
In addition the Centre for Housing Research (CHR) will undertake a study of measures to promote improvement in private rented accommodation standards and develop good practice guidelines to assist housing authorities in their functions relating to the private rented sector. A concerted effort is required in this area and I am committed to ensuring that the necessary improvements are achieved.