Thursday, 10 December 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
255. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the private rented accommodation inspections by local authorities in 2018, 2019 and 2020; the number of inspections in which further enforcement action was taken in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42671/20]
The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 specify requirements in relation to a range of matters, such as structural repair, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, natural light and the safety of gas, oil and electrical supplies. With very limited exemptions, these apply to all private rented residential accommodation.
All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties, regardless of tenancy type, comply with these regulations. Responsibility for the enforcement of the Regulations rests with the relevant local authority.
If an inspection identifies that a property has been found to be non-compliant with the Regulations, it is a matter for the Local Authority to determine the necessary and appropriate actions to take, including the issuing of an Improvement Letter, Improvement Notice and Prohibition Notice, and the initiation of legal action.
Data in respect of the number of Inspections of private rental properties, Improvement Letters issued, Improvement and Prohibition Notices issued, and the legal actions initiated by local authorities in 2018 and 2019 is available on my Department's website at the following link:
Data in respect of the number of inspections of private rental properties, Improvement Letters issued, Improvement and Prohibition Notices issued and the legal actions initiated to the end of September 2020 is set out in the table below.
|Local Authority||Inspections carried out||Improvement Letters issued||Improvement Notices issued||Prohibition Notices issued||Legal Action initiated|
|Dun Laoghaire Rathdown||988||912||2||0||0|
|Cork City Council||434||96||1||0||0|
|Dublin City Council||1693||1156||424||10||0|
|Galway City Council||345||244||39||0||0|
Pandemic restrictions have impacted on both inspections and enforcement activity in 2020.
256. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his plans to bring forward legislation on the issue of overcrowding in private rented accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42672/20]
Part IV of the Housing Act 1966 deals with overcrowding and establishes effective limits on the numbers of people that can occupy the same bedroom. The Act requires, inter alia, that there is at least 400 cubic feet of free air space for each person in a bedroom. Local Authorities are responsible for the enforcement of this legislation.
Under the Act, a housing authority may request information from the owner or occupier of a house such as will allow that authority to determine if a house can be deemed to be overcrowded, having regard to section 63 of the Act.
Under the Act, a local authority can prohibit the use of an overcrowded dwelling, irrespective of whether it is being let or not, and can serve notice on the owner of a dwelling specifying the maximum number of persons that may occupy it without causing overcrowding. If the owner of a house is causing or permitting the house to be overcrowded, the authority can require the owner to desist from this within a period not exceeding 21 days. Any person who neglects or refuses to comply with these requirements is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a class C fine not exceeding €2,500 and/or to imprisonment for up to one month.
Overcrowding may give rise to concerns in respect of fire safety, and may lead to enforcement action by fire authorities.
I am committed to empowering local authorities to deal with overcrowding more effectively. My Department is currently working on proposed legislative changes to the Housing Act 1966 which are designed to strengthen the statutory framework for the enforcement of the Act's overcrowding provisions by:
- Empowering local authorities to enter a house without prior notice for the purposes of establishing whether it is overcrowded
- Increasing penalties for refusing to give information or giving false information
- Increasing penalties for causing or permitting overcrowding
- Empowering local authorities to seek an order of the High Court stating the maximum number of occupants permitted or requiring a house to be vacated