Inspex supporting Independent living Dogs for the Disabled

Supporting Independent Living

At Inspex we all share a desire to give something back and we’re doing this through our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts. Inspex is proud to have Dogs for the Disabled as our corporate charity for 2019.

Established in 2007 Dogs for the Disabled and its volunteers train specially selected assistance dogs to assist physically disabled children and adults achieve greater independence.

These assistance dogs are amazing because they can be trained to support a wide array of physical disabilities and to carry out a range of practical everyday tasks for their owners.

Successfully placing twenty-five fully trained assistance dogs with new partners each year, Dogs for the Disabled provide these special dogs to physically disabled children and adults free of charge with no Irish Government funding.

Each of their assistance dogs are fully trained to the highest standard over a 2-year training programme and it costs €15,000 to raise, care for and train the dog.

Working with Local Authorities, Inspex plays an important role in ensuring minimum accommodation standards in the Private Rented Sector are met.

As part of our initiative to support independent living in homes that meet the minimum housing standards, Inspex will make a donation for each property, that goes through our housing standards inspection process, that achieves compliance with the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019.

For more information on Dogs for the Disabled and the amazing work they do, visit their website https://dogsfordisabled.ie/

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Substandard-PRS-Accommodation

Persistent Demand But Slow Supply

There is a longstanding adage in Ireland that for investment there is nothing "as safe as houses". Traditionally, the understanding and most common perception was that houses were, in effect, a completely safe bet.

Through our company's long standing, independent, professional inspection practices Inspex is committed to assisting Local Authorities fulfil their responsibility to inspect and improve accommodation standards in the Private Rented Sector (PRS).

Statistics tracking the change in Ireland’s national population in comparison to the change in the housing stock up to 2016 seem to lend some weight to recent, anecdotal claims of a disparity between the quantity of accommodation and the corresponding demand from accommodation seekers in recent years. Between 2011 and 2016, the national population grew by 3.8% while the housing stock increased by only 0.4% during the same period (CSO). In addition, there has been an outpouring from mainstream media and social media commentary regarding the so-called “housing crisis”, with local and national government officials, opposition parties, and members of the public all weighing in on this contentious topic, with the Taoiseach describing the housing situation in front of an Oireachtas Finance Committee as “extremely disturbing” (Irish Times).

With the government under intense pressure to curb the rising trend in homelessness and ‘emergency accommodation’ provision; government agencies focussed on protecting the rights of tenants facing possible rent increases and eviction notices; and tenants scrambling to secure and/or retain the roof over their heads, the recently rolled-out Housing Regulations 2017 face the possibility of being forgotten in the midst of the scramble to ease public tensions and increase the pipeline of supply.

Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), a sub-sector of the market has become of interest to investors and developers of late, where the risk/return ratio often is like the general residential market and often with the added benefit of higher yields achievable in PBSA (CBRE) .  This leaves students embroiled in a frantic, and often fruitless, attempt to find accommodation close to their chosen third level institution, at an affordable price, and of acceptable quality. Such has been the desperation of the student masses to secure adequate accommodation in recent years, that the Union of Students of Ireland (USI) this year released a guide to student accommodation and finances, in partnership with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), to assist students in their search.

Student-accommodation may be perceived as a niche within the PRS market but, regardless of the demographic of the tenant in any private rental property, the standards do apply, and every tenant is entitled to live in a comfortable and safe home. Particularly with homeownership rates on the decline, falling from 69.7% to 67.6% in the five-year period to 2016, while there was a corresponding 4.7% increase in the number of rented households making renting the tenure choice of almost 30% of all occupied dwellings nationally (CSO). Based on these trends, it is imperative that rental accommodation in Ireland is maintained in accordance with the standards prescribed by the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government (DHELG), to safeguard the growing rental sector for future generations of private renters to come.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has also stepped into the breach actively promoting the importance of upholding existing standards and ensuring compliance with PRS regulations, with a special emphasis on the student cohort (NSAI).  Inspex welcomes this as a positive step towards improving awareness of the Standards and moving towards improving compliance rates.

Being cognisant of the challenges, Inspex continues to monitor the PRS market while remaining steadfast to its ideology of independent verification of standards.

Its ongoing support in this space educates landlords and tenants as to their responsibilities and supports Local Authorities in achieving the Government inspection targets for 2021 and beyond.

The Inspex approach can ensure that more rental properties meet and comply with the rental regulation standards.

private rented sector and its new role

New Role for PRS

The private rented sector has not caught up with its new role as a long-term housing provider - that's the message we hear time and time again.....

Increasingly the private rented sector is providing housing for a wide range of households.  Since the property collapse, the rental sector has accommodated households who have postponed purchasing, households who have lost their homes, for those whose rents are paid for by State Supplementary Schemes as well as other vulnerable groups whose needs may not be best catered for in the private rented sector.

As a result of the property crash 'Accidental Landlords' have become an increasing phenomenon in the Irish property landscape.

According to DKM Economic Consultants a recent RED C survey of landlords shows that 65% of landlords own just one property. Just over 70% of landlords indicate that they have an outstanding debt on the rental property and for 71% the rental income does not cover the mortgage or loan repayments.  Over 31% of respondents intend to sell their properties as soon as they can.

A recent Housing Conference held in the Royal Irish Academy in central Dublin heard Senator Hayden say "there are chronic failings in the sector that need to be addressed before anyone living in rented accommodation can really consider it to be a long-term home".

Separately, the SVP reports that access to the private rented sector is decreasing for the low income households.  "Some landlords are reluctant to participate in HAP as they see no advantage to entering into a long term lease and not being free to take advantage of projected high rent increases".

Currently there are over 90,000 households in need of social housing in Ireland with this number set to increase over the coming years.  So whose problem is this to solve?

Social Housing 2020 has ambitious targets to be achieved by end of 2020. These include providing 35,000 social housing units through new build, leasing, ownership transfer, re-letting local authority voids and supporting up to 75,000 households on local authority waiting lists living in the private rented sector through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS). (Source:Social Housing at the Crossroads; Possibilities for Investment, Provision and Cost Rental June 2014)

According to SVP "Delivery targets for 2015 are already at risk of not being met".

With shortcomings in public sector housing provision, it appears as if the private rented sector, not yet ready for its new role, is expected to fill the gap.

Speaking about a recent draft report from Dublin City Council and RIAI that outlines 85% of Dublin flats fail to meet basic standards, Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn calls for tighter regulations and inspections with standards to be imposed on rental accommodation around the city.

Given what has transpired over the past decade, it may well be that some buy-to-let investors are not fully informed in regard to their knowledge of the property market or tenancy law when entering the residential investment market.

Enforcement of existing regulations in the rented sector is key to ensuring landlords fully understand their obligations.

Up to April 2014, just over 4,700 dwellings had been inspected of which the vast majority (93%) were non-compliant in some way with the Standards.  Enforcement notices were served and follow-up inspections undertaken by which time 60% of the non-compliant properties had achieved compliance.

In other words, the majority of landlords will ensure their properties meet standards when they know what standards the properties are expected to meet.  Compliance can be achieved with thorough inspection regimes.