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Boomtime buyers bypassed apartments for a suburban semi

IT's a snapshot of home ownership at the end of the property bubble and shows that, for most of us, only a house is a home.

New research shows that despite a raft of advertisements encouraging people to buy 'luxury' apartments in 'exclusive' developments during the boom, buyers instead chose the traditional semi-d in the suburbs.

The Eurostat housing report 2009, published yesterday, shows that Ireland has the lowest level of flat dwelling in the European Union.

Just 3.1pc of the population live in flats or apartments, compared to an EU average of 41.7pc. Given our population of 4.5 million people, it means that just under 140,000 people live in a flat. This is despite more than 130,000 being built between 2000 and 2009 during the property boom.

The most popular form of housing is a semi-detached or terrace house -- almost 58pc live in these homes, more than twice the EU average of 23pc.

Detached houses are also popular, with 39pc living in these -- compared with the average of 34pc.

Across the EU, flats are the most common form of accommodation in Latvia, most people in Slovenia live in a detached house while a semi-detached or terraced house is the most common house type in the Netherlands.

But the research, compiled by the Central Statistics Office on behalf of Eurostat, also shows that tens of thousands of people in Ireland are living in sub-standard accommodation.

Some 13.2pc live in a home affected by damp or a leaking roof, or almost 600,000 people. This is just below the EU average of 15.9pc, but compares well against 30.6pc in Slovenia.

Another 166,000 (3.7pc) say their home is overcrowded and too small for the numbers living in it, compared with the average of 17.8pc. The highest rate is in Hungary at 55pc. Some 252,000 (5.6pc) say that darkness is a problem, compared with the average of 7.3pc.


Some 13,500 (0.3pc) people have no indoor toilet, while 27,000 (0.6pc) lack a bath or shower.

This compares with a 3.5pc average for no toilet, and 3.1pc for no shower across the EU. The highest rates where these basic facilities are not provided is Romania, with 42.5pc and 41.2pc respectively.

Unfortunately for some, they will be forced to live in sub-standard rented accommodation for another two years while landlords make improvements.

The Department of the Environment introduced new standards for rented accommodation in February 2009, which required all homes to have a shower or bath, indoor toilet and be free of damp.

A spokesman last night said landlords had until February 2013 to make the necessary improvements.

"To allow sufficient time for landlords to make necessary improvements to their properties, a four-year phasing-in period to come into compliance with the sanitary requirements of the regulations was also provided for; this period expires on February 1, 2013."

Fines for non-compliant buildings are up to €5,000, and the fine for each day of a continuing offence is €400.

In 2007, just over 17,000 inspections of private rented accommodation were carried out by local authorities. Almost 2,900 dwellings did not meet the minimum requirements.

However, just 4pc, or 75 cases, referred to the Private Residential Tenancies Board in 2009 related to the standard and maintenance of homes.

Irish Independent