News Irish News

Friday 20 July 2018

Apartment owners landed with bills of €5,000 for fire safety work

Many are now seeking help as fears grow that they will be unable to meet the rising costs

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Homeowners in south Dublin are concerned about the rising cost of fixing their homes after they were handed bills of more than €5,000 each to pay for existing structural defects.

Families living at the Beacon South Quarter, in Sandyford, said they will have to pay more toward the repairs, but they have not yet been given an indication of the number of payments they will have to make, or how much each payment will be.

Many have started making the payments despite the fact much of the work has yet to be carried out.

Fire officers are currently in talks with the on-site property management company after it asked for immediate and extensive work to be carried out. However, no timeline or work schedule has been set out for the necessary repairs.

Apartment owners voted last year to pay more than €10m to fix the defects at the property. However, many owner occupiers said they were out-muscled in the vote by companies who own multiple units in the development.

Ires Reit, the country's largest private landlord, owns 25pc of the 880 apartments in the complex.

It said it was supportive of the work being completed after Dublin Fire Brigade wrote to owners warning they could face legal action if they do not carry out safety work at their homes.

Since the vote it has been reported that the cost of the repairs has more than doubled. The remediation work is now expected to cost more than €20m.

Homeowners are fearful they will be unable to sell their homes because of the issue.

Yesterday, the Beacon South Quarter Management Company said property owners were aware they would be responsible for the cost of the repairs if the money could not be recouped elsewhere.

Local Green Party TD Catherine Martin called on the Government to intervene, suggesting homeowners affected by such issues should receive tax breaks or interest-free loans from the State. She added that she is currently drafting a bill in relation to putting protections in place for future homeowners.

Regulation

"I do not wish to comment on any specific development as I am acutely aware that singling out one development for such attention has potential to cause hurt. Moreover, this is a national issue that deserves a national response from Government," she said.

"It was the light-touch or non-existent State regulation that has led to this. The only law reform since the Priory Hall case six years ago is the change to building control, but there has been zero changes when it comes to remedies for consumers, real regulatory bodies for contractors, and no dispute regulation scheme for homeowners.

"There are specific ways redress could be handled here. A start would be that they do not pay property tax but that should be the start. In Canada there is an interest-free loan scheme from the State. They would apply to the State if they discover a defect in their home and apply for an interest-free loan."

In recent weeks, homeowners at the development received an invoice and notification of billing arrangements for sinking funds set up to deal with the ongoing issues at the property.

It included a €3,456.39 invoice towards the fire compliance sinking fund, and a €1,601.60 charge for monies towards the water ingress sinking fund.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News