Wednesday 21 August 2019

Private landlords should have 'fear of God' in them says 'shocked' minister

Regina Doherty. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Regina Doherty. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins

Alan O'Keeffe

A Government minister said "the fear of God" should be put into landlords about registering their rental properties.

Employment Affairs and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said she was "shocked" by revelations of sub-standard and unsafe rental accommodation.

Landlords should be made to expect much more extensive inspections of their rental properties, she said.

Fire safety dangers and extensive overcrowding in rental accommodation was highlighted first by and in the Irish Independent and the 'Herald' about shoddy and dangerous living conditions. The issue was also raised by the 'RTÉ Investigates: Prime Time' programme on Thursday.

Referring to the programme's revelations, she said: "To say it's probably shocking is an understatement.

"When you look at the conditions that those people are living in, and continue to live in for a period of time after it being reported to the local authorities, it's clearly not good enough.

"You have to reflect on all of the agencies that are responsible for making sure that standards in the rental sector are what they should be and what we expect them to be."

Asked about the reported low rate of inspections in Dublin, she said: "You'd have to look and say, what we saw last night is happening in the city we all live in, then clearly there aren't enough inspections.

"Clearly, the powers of the PRTB [Private Residential Tenancies Board] are not strong enough to warrant people feeling they can be non-compliant.

"As a landlord, the fear of God should be in you to not register with the PRTB.

"As a landlord, you should be expecting an inspector to come as a regular occurrence to make sure that the provision that you are providing is safe.

"That's absolutely the most important thing.

"The rented accommodation might not be all luxury but, at the very least, it needs to be safe.

"What we clearly saw on Prime Time was not safe and that needs to be regulated.

"The only way you can regulate is to have clear inspections to have people live up to the standards that we expect of them.

"That might need to be underpinned by legislation.

"It definitely needs for us to examine the money that the State is putting in towards rent supplement or any other supports that we're using.

"We need to make sure that those accommodations that people are living in are safe," said the minister.

Irish Independent

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