Tuesday 17 July 2018

Sites advertising dodgy properties face clampdown

Inspections: Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Inspections: Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Websites that advertise properties which are clearly in breach of planning or safety regulations could face criminal charges.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has said he is open to the idea of making it an offence for websites to accept advertisements for dodgy rental homes.

He has also admitted there is a need to increase inspections so that slum landlords are put out of the market.

"We want to get to a point where a property is inspected once every four years approximately," Mr Murphy told the Dáil.

The minister accepted suggestions that websites such as Daft and MyHome are being used to advertise properties which the accompanying photographs clearly show are substandard.

It was put to him by Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin that many of these rental opportunities are targeted at foreign language students and migrant workers.

In response, Mr Murphy said he has already raised the idea of clamping down on social media adverts targeting language students with his officials. "It will require having people with the right language skills in Portuguese and so on to read these advertisements and to help with inspections," he said.

"On the deputy's proposal to make it an offence for platforms to advertise or to place an obligation on them to regulate what is advertised, I would not see a problem if it is about professional property or letting platforms.

"It would be difficult to achieve that through normal social media channels like Twitter or Facebook. I am not against pursuing that course of action and I will look at it."

A spokesperson for Daft.ie told the Irish Independent it complies with all existing legislation.

"We try to encourage everybody to engage in best practice. As a business objective we want best practice on the site," he said.

Similarly a spokesperson for MyHome.ie said. "We're constantly working with our clients to ensure the information which appears on the site accurately reflects the condition of the property in question and is fully compliant with the relevant legislation. Our aim is to enable all users to make informed decisions based on accurate information."

On the wider issue of inspections, Mr Murphy said it is important to recognise the "great utility of a risk-based inspection programme".

"It allows us to identify properties which are prone to overcrowding because they have been used that way in the past, or to identify properties using social media and other channels. It means that when we go to inspect those properties, it actually helps people who are suffering in those situations."

Irish Independent

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