Councils are accused over 'rapid slide in rental sector standards'
IRELAND'S local authorities have been accused of enabling a "rapid slide" in the standards of Irish rental accommodation over the last year.
Housing charity Threshold alleges that not only have many of Ireland's local authorities not fulfilled their legal obligations on the inspection of private rental accommodation and enforcement of minimum standards, but that some councils don't even seem to be aware of them.
Threshold's annual report, which was released yesterday, launches a broadside against the widespread neglect by local authorities across Ireland and their role in empowering unscrupulous landlords by failing to detect and then clamp down on offenders.
The charity says some councils, like Dublin City Council, have been upstanding in their efforts, but too many more have failed to enforce standards.
Speaking in advance of the launch, Threshold chairperson Senator Aideen Hayden said: "Poor standards in rental accommodation was one of the biggest issues for the 20,000-plus people who contacted Threshold last year. As the economic downturn has continued, this has become a major problem.
"Many local authorities are failing to inspect rented properties and, in some cases, appear to be unaware of their obligation to do so. Even landlords who wish to comply are failing to maintain their properties due to their own financial problems."
The report's findings paint a grim picture of desperate families throughout Ireland increasingly being forced to live in substandard accommodation because of growing demand for rented properties.
A record one-in-five people now rents their home – up 50pc in five years and the highest numbers the State has seen since the 1950s.
Bob Jordan, chief executive of Threshold, added: "The growth in this sector has been rapid and will have long-term repercussions."
Among the problems are:
* All-round plummet in standards.
* Deposits being withheld illegally.
* Landlords claiming they are "too broke" to make repairs or to refurbish poor accommodation.
* An arrears crisis in buy-to-let mortgages where tenants are increasingly impacted when their landlord's property is put into receivership.
Meanwhile, despite the new legislation ruling that bedsits are no longer legal and that units must have their own bathrooms, Threshold says it has come across plenty still being operated.
Ireland's rental crisis is linked to the increased numbers of families who have been renting and putting off purchasing since the property crisis. Also, the property crash has prevented new homes being constructed in cities over the last five years, during which time the population has been growing.