NINE out of 10 flats and bedsits inspected in Dublin City Council’s crackdown on substandard accommodation were found to be unfit for habitation.
Some 1,500 flats were inspected by the City Council – and nearly 1,400 of them failed to meet the minimum legal standards for private rented accommodation.
Faults included unsafe electrics, a lack of private bathrooms and windows, damp, mould and poor heating.
The figures relate to three roads with a high proportions of flats and bedsits: Cabra Park in Dublin 7, Grove Park in Rathmines and a section of the North Circular Road from the Phoenix Park to Aughrim Street.
The flats were targeted as part of a €1m Intensified Inspection Programme funded by the Department of the Environment to identify slum conditions in the city’s private rented sector.
Prior to the programme, inspections of private rented housing by the council were based on complaints from tenants, neighbours, and local politicians.
But the new blitz on dodgy accommodation works on a more proactive basis, where an area is chosen by the council and every rented flat or house is inspected.
The council is now set to extend its inspections to a further 7,000 properties throughout the city.
Landlords have been served with 1,544 notices to improve their flats. Failure to act will result in a ban on re-letting the properties as well as legal action if the problems are not fixed.
Figures for the first six months of the programme show that environmental health officers carried out 2,230 inspections on 1,499 properties. Of these properties, 1,384 did not meet the most basic standards.
Nearly all of the flats are in “pre-63” properties such as old houses that were split into flats before 1963, when legislation was introduced to make it illegal to convert a house without planning permission.
As a result, many old |terraced houses were divided into seven or eight flats, something which would not be allowed under modern planning regulations.
These bedsits have traditionally been used by students from outside the capital while studying in Dublin but in more recent years have become homes for many of the immigrants who came to Ireland.
“These are areas with a high concentration of bedsits and small flats. Almost all of the units would have shared bathroom facilities,” said Colm Smyth, Dublin City Council’s principal environmental health officer.
Under the inspection programme, the flats and bedsits cannot be relet until they are brought up to standard, but existing tenants can remain living there while works take place.