Saturday 24 August 2019

Just two showers between 40 tenants - RTE Investigates highlights slum-like conditions in private rental sector

Overcrowded conditions seen by RTÉ Investigates
Overcrowded conditions seen by RTÉ Investigates
One of the properties seen by RTÉ Investigates
Beds inside one rental property seen by RTÉ Investigates Newsdesk Newsdesk

An RTE Investigates programme highlighted some of the shocking slum-like conditions within the Irish private rental sector.

A property on Old County Road in Crumlin - where a bed was advertised at €250 per month - housed 40 occupants living in cramped conditions.

Rooms were packed with bunkbeds squeezed in end-to-end, specially designed to squeeze the maximum number of people into the room. Tenants draped towels from their beds as curtains for privacy.

There were just two showers between the 40 tenants.

One of the properties seen by RTÉ Investigates
One of the properties seen by RTÉ Investigates

"You don't expect those things in a first world country," said one former tenant.

Temperatures of 30 degrees were recorded in one of the bedrooms. Even the sitting room was used as a makeshift bedroom with someone sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

There was one kitchen in the property. Tenants said it was a constant battle to keep it clean. Bags of rubbish quickly piled up in the small courtyard at the back of the house.

Read more: 'Cover sewage with cement... hide the bunkbeds' - Major slum landlord operation uncovered

Electrical wires were left exposed. There were bars on the windows in toilets and bathrooms. Mould and the remains of dead flies were visible on the ceiling.

What's most shocking was the lack of fire safety regulation. Robert Knox, a building engineer said it was a "gross abuse of the occupants".

Beds inside one rental property seen by RTÉ Investigates
Beds inside one rental property seen by RTÉ Investigates

"They're living in extreme danger... this building could go up at any time."

In another property in Cobh, County Cork, a tenant had been paying €125 per week for sub-standard accommodation. There was no hot water, ceilings were damp, electrical sockets were exposed and there were mice in the house.

A woman renting a property in County Louth for nine years was living with mould and a hole in the roof which caused rain to trickle down around ceiling lights.

Another example of chronic overcrowding was shown in Dublin, where a property housed 60 tenants.

It was also in breach of fire safety refulations. Mr Knox described the conditions as "the worst he had ever seen".

Read more: Slum landlords' houses slammed as 'death traps and inhumane'

Some of the cramped living conditions
Some of the cramped living conditions

There were 23 girls sharing a property with just one shower between them. One bedroom housed 16 bunkbeds.

Following the undercover investigation, Dublin Fire Brigade closed three multiple occupancy buildings in Dublin in breach of multiple fire safety standards.

The dangerously overcrowded buildings, located in Crumlin, Kilmainham and Rathmines, housed more than 120 tenants.

Figures released to RTE under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that only four percent of rental properties were inspected last year and of those that were inspected, more than two thirds were not compliant with the regulations.

Kilkenny, Louth, Offaly and Limerick city and county scored a 100 percent failure rate.

The figures show that the overall non-compliance rate for the country stands at 69 per cent.

Read more: 'My landlord charged me €30 to get my passport back' - The loophole leaving renters exposed

Aideen Hayden, from Threshold said on the programme: "What we are seeing, the case studies we are seen in the programme illustrate that the situation is becoming significantly worse.

"It is a failure of regulation and it is a failure on the part of those people who have responsibility for regulation and it is a failure on the part of the government in relation to funding the enforcement of this regulation.

"These are situations that should not be tolerated in a humane society and it is an absolute failure on our part as a people."

A High Court challenge against RTE's plans to air RTE Investigates: Nightmare To Rent was withdrawn today.

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