Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Appoints Inspex

DLR CC Appoints Inspex

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has appointed the Inspex team to carry out proactive inspections of private rented properties in the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council Area.

All privately rented properties must comply with the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. The current minimum standards for rented accommodation specify the requirements in relation to a range of matters including structural repair, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, lighting, fire safety as well as the safety of gas and electrical supply.

These minimum accommodation standards apply to all privately rented property that is currently let or available for letting from private landlords, approved housing bodies and institutional landlords.

All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their properties comply with the minimum standards whether a tenant is in receipt of a housing assistance payment or not.

Failure to comply with the minimum standards can result in penalties and prosecution. Dun Laoghaire County Council can issue Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices to landlords who breach the minimum standards regulations.

Queries in relation to the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017 and how compliance may be achieved can be submitted to our online chat facility at www.inspex.ie or follow twitter.com/Inspex_ie where information in relation to compliance is regularly published.

South Dublin County Council

South Dublin CC Appoints Inspex

South Dublin County Council has appointed the Inspex team to carry out proactive inspections of private rented properties in the South Dublin Area.

All privately rented properties must comply with the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. The current minimum standards for rented accommodation specify the requirements in relation to a range of matters including structural repair, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, lighting, fire safety as well as the safety of gas and electrical supply.

All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their properties comply with these minimum standards whether a tenant is in receipt of a housing assistance payment or not.

Failure to comply with the minimum standards can result in penalties and prosecution. South Dublin County Council can issue Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices to landlords who breach the minimum standards regulations.

Queries in relation to the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017 and how compliance may be achieved can be submitted to our online chat facility at www.inspex.ie or follow twitter.com/Inspex_ie where information in relation to compliance is regularly published.

Housing Affordability and Differential Rents

Affordability and Differential Rents

CSO figures released this week show that property prices rose nationally by 5.6 per cent in the year to January 2019. This represents an 82.1 per cent increase from the cyclical trough in early 2013.  The ESRI state that while “housing affordability challenges are not universal, certain groups do face acute affordability challenges”.

NERI asserted in 2017 that residential property had become less affordable for some groups from the late 1980s onwards.

The Housing Agency report on housing supply states that the shortage of affordable housing in recent years has manifested into pressure on other sectors, including the private and social rented sectors.

Housing affordability can be defined in a few ways. Most commonly, the numerical rule used to determine household affordability is whether the household spends more than 30 per cent of the income on housing.

This simple income to cost ratio does not allow for any distinction between higher income households that may choose to allocate a higher portion of income to housing costs and lower income households that may be forced to spend a higher portion of income on housing.  The ESRI highlighted this as a significant weakness.  The alternative “30/40 measure” classifies housing as unaffordable if both 30 per cent of the household income goes on housing payments and that household income falls in the bottom 40 per cent of the income distribution.

Affordability in terms of central government and Local Authority (LA) provision of direct-build social housing must be called into question.  The reality is that differential rents charged to tenants are far too low and far from cover a LA's costs.

According to the Housing Agency, LA rents are based on  ‘differential rents’, meaning the amount of rent paid by tenants depends on their total household income. Each LA operates its own rent scheme, the particulars of which always vary depending on the LA.

Social policy authors point to differential rents being problematic when it comes to the efficiency of the housing service provided by the LAs. This is because there is no guarantee that the differential rents charged will generate sufficient revenue to manage and maintain the stock of LA dwellings over the medium to long term.

Ultimately, there is no relationship between rents charged and the cost of providing social housing.  This means there are financial deficits for LAs without even considering arrears in rental payments due.

Rent arrears at the end of 2016 across the 31 LA's amounted to almost €73m. In 2010, the Local Government Efficiency Review Group recommended that social housing rents should be deducted directly from social welfare payments “to reduce the overheads associated with revenue collection, to reduce arrears and to prevent an accumulation of arrears.  Section 53 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 provides for this deduction but this section of the Act has yet to be applied.

Despite inefficiencies in the State and LAs' provision of social housing to low-income households, it is considered to be an important element of housing policy.

Since the late 19th Century, LAs have been the main providers of social housing and they have provided 365,350 council housing units since then with those dwellings accounting for 22.2 per cent of Ireland’s total housing stock in 2016, according to a recent report.  While council housing tenants accounted for 73.2 per cent of low-income renting households receiving government housing supports in 1994, that rate fell to 53 per cent by 2016.

In 2017, RIA noted there had been a shift in global housing policies in recent decades whereby direct state involvement in housing provision has broadly been replaced by private-sector provision.  This has resulted in more market-dominated systems of housing provision.  As a result of policy shifts and the emergence of the new market-dominant model, RIA noted that central government developed new housing allowances for poorer households to obtain private rented accommodation. In Ireland, these allowances included Rent Supplement, the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), introduced in 2016 intended to replace Rent Supplement.

As part of a recent IBEC campaign, a report on ‘better housing’ emphasised that “failure to provide adequate social housing into the future will lead to a build-up of social and economic problems including competitiveness pressures and urban sprawl”.

Despite the obvious need for adequacy of dwelling accommodation, the Department of Housing permits several exemptions from the Minimum Standards for Rented Accommodation Regulations. Exempted properties include accommodation provided by the HSE or an Approved Housing Body (AHB) which includes communal sanitary, cooking and dining facilities as well as all accommodation provided by a housing authority or an AHB being exempt from the requirements for food preparation, storage and laundry standards.

Regardless of the policy decisions that are made going forward by central government , the minimum standard of accommodation should be verifiable for all. The regulations can only have a positive, far-reaching sectoral impact if they are enforced across all areas of the private rented sector (PRS).

With Inspex offering a consistent, streamlined inspection service solution which can be applied to any rented dwelling, the opportunity is there to identify any gaps that exist in the quality of the national housing stock.

Regular, standardised inspections of rented dwellings is an important feature of a well-functioning housing sector. This is particularly important in the current framework where the traditional lines between social and private rented stock are blurred and tenants are being accommodated by multiple types of landlords.

private-rented-sector-institutional-investment

Chasing the Pot of Gold

Ireland’s Private Rented Sector (PRS) has evolved considerably in recent years, particularly with the advent of institutional investment in residential property. A report by the Department of Finance has attributed this evolution to a structural change in the market, including financial and construction restraints, societal changes, such as urbanisation, and changing tenure, with a perception that continued institutional investment represents an opportunity to professionalise the sector.

Inspex has found from a sample of properties it has inspected that this purported professionalism has yet to present itself in rental accommodation standards compliance – 89 per cent of units owned by institutional landlords were non-compliant and 57 per cent owned by approved housing bodies (AHBs) were non-compliant, while only 30 per cent were non-compliant in the case of individual, private landlords.

Ireland’s homeownership rate peaked at 80 per cent in 1991 but by 2016 this rate had fallen to just 67.6 per cent. Renting is on the rise, corresponding with a noted rise in “the role played by companies such as pension funds, specialist private rental firms and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)” in the PRS, according to the Department of Finance.

The Department’s report notes that the quantum of individual landlords owning just one rental property represented the largest group of all landlords (121,481, or 70 per cent), while only 64 landlords own more than 100 properties each (less than 0.5 per cent of total number of landlords).

With suggestions that many small, individual landlords are now exiting the market, what is it that drives them away from the once popular and lucrative business of property investment?

The tax and regulatory frameworks of the residential rental market have been cited as two of the biggest disincentivising factors for landlords in the sector, while institutional investors generally have the benefit of economies of scale and stronger equity on their side.

For landlords with ‘one-off’ investment properties it can prove difficult to achieve the desired return in the short-term when debt payments (capital repayments plus interest), service charges, maintenance, insurance, RTB registration fees and agency management fees are all considered. Even with market rents increasing steadily in recent years (in Q4-2018 national rents rose to 31 per cent higher than their 2008 peak), this rental income is not enough to offset the investor’s expenses.

Individual landlords, eager to enter the market as first-time investors, face exorbitant property prices (the national residential property price index was 107.4 at the end of 2018). Strict lending rules imposed by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI), post-property crash, limit Buy-to-Let (BTL) investors to a maximum mortgage Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio of 70 per cent and loan terms of no more than 25 years.

Large, institutional investors can reduce the tax liability of much of their income and profit and do by benefiting from tax efficient investment vehicles such as REITs, etc., where individual investors often see rental income and sales profit diminished by income tax and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) respectively.  By virtue of the much smaller scale of individual landlords’ investments they are precluded from availing of the tax advantages of property investment vehicles which are more amenable to the institutional landlords. It is supposed that institutional investors are mostly replacing traditional buy-to-let (BTL) investors, rather than first-time buyers.

Comparing the risks involved in residential property investment with an alternative option, a private pension or a 10-year government bond for example, yields vary, with higher returns usually congruent with higher risk investments, such as property. Over its lifetime, property is considered a higher-yielding investment class with the additional benefit of owning a bankable asset at the end of the loan term (assuming the investor has opted to repay capital plus interest rather than interest only) though it represents a greater risk to the investor overall.

The Department of Finance suggests that although “institutional investors are not yet adversely impacting on the function of the residential rental market”, this could become a concern in the future if the current trend continues.

Individual investors must evaluate their options and determine if they can generate a positive rate of return from their investment property in the short to medium term where the rental income can sufficiently service the property expenses. Where investors find that rental income is falling short, a long-term play must be considered where the true return on the investment is not realised until the asset is sold.

While some individuals may consider a break-even scenario in the short-term a worthy concession to the benefit of owning what presumably will be an appreciated fixed asset at the end of the term, for some investors this is not a financially viable option. However, this scenario depends on whether the property investment has been leveraged with debt or purchased entirely with cash.

Besides the ongoing financial burden of owning, managing and letting a PRS property and the administrative hassles that can arise during that process, many investors are simply opting out.

Rental Properties

Landlords – Your Country Needs You

By 2040 Ireland’s population is expected to reach almost 6 million with a need for 550,000 more homes and 660,000 additional jobs. The need to provide in excess of half-a-million more homes over the period to 2040 corresponds to the long-term trend of 25,000 new homes every year.

Rented accommodation continues its upward trend with 497,111 households renting in 2016, an increase of 4.7% on 2011. Renting from a local authority showed the largest increase in this period, up 11% from 129,033 in 2011 to 143,178 in 2016. The number of households which were rented either from a private landlord or voluntary body rose by 2% from 320,319 in 2011 to 326,493 in 2016. This means that renting was the tenure status for almost 30% of all of occupied dwellings in the last census.

The collapse of the Irish property market in 2008 led to significant difficulties in the residential rental sector. Landlords who had paid significant prices for properties were either unable or unwilling to invest further in their rental properties to stay in line with minimum standards.

At the same time, Ireland’s property crash and government policy resulted in cash-rich international investors taking the opportunity to invest in Irish property, paving the way for a new wave of larger scale institutional landlords in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). These overseas investors saw the opportunity to capitalise on future gains and were instrumental in the advent of Build-To-Rent (BTR) schemes – Irish Life Investment Managers (ILIM) reportedly paid over €100 million for 262 units in Fernbank in 2018.

Institutional investors can avail of tax incentives on property investments through fund structures such as Qualifying Investor Funds (QIFs) and Irish Collective Asset Management Vehicles (ICAVs). KPMG’s Jim Clery indicates that despite the tax benefits of such funds for large investors, the cost of administering them requires a minimum investment of approximately €25 million to justify the outlays which he suggests is beyond smaller, domestic investors.

Knight Frank describes the Dublin residential market as “a unique opportunity for investors” and although delivery of new stock increased in 2017 to just over 6,000 units according to figures from the Department of Housing, that figure is below the 11,000 units required annually in the capital according to this agent’s in-house research, the majority of which should be for rent.

With the prospect of lucrative gains, why is Ireland’s PRS stock lagging and why are individual Irish landlords despondent?

Landlord costs, rent controls and taxation are often cited as the three biggest property investment deterrents. While tenants in Ireland enjoy higher standards than their European counterparts, the additional expenditure on improvements to ensure compliance with minimum standards legislation can further impact smaller scale landlords.

Where there is outstanding debt on a rental property held by a small-scale landlord, soaring rents are often insufficient in helping to offset the cost of loan repayments. Budget 2019 reintroduced 100% mortgage interest relief for landlords on rental properties but according to financial experts, with all other costs considered (income tax on rental payments, USC, property tax, etc.) this tax relief will make little or no impact for landlords. Tax benefits associated with investing in property through a pension fund could help to incentivise small-scale landlords to invest. However, guidelines around the use of pension funds for property investment and perpetual uncertainty around taxation and regulations remain a constant threat to investment stability.

Given the continued growth of PRS stock and the policy of linking inspection funding to inspection performance, it is likely that inspection activity should increase into the future. Available statistics from the RTB and Department of Housing indicate that only 4.8% of registered rental properties were inspected in 2017, despite a target of 10% for that year, far behind NOAC’s recommendation to ensure all rental dwellings would be inspected every five years.

The evolution of Ireland’s PRS is indisputable. Continuing its successful growth trajectory depends on supply and quality of output as well as preservation of existing stock, neither of which can be achieved without confidence and buy-in from the nation’s landlords.

Looking Beyond the Lens

Homeless figures released by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for November 2018 show that in the last week of November a total of 6,157 adults were recorded as homeless in Ireland.  Of those, almost half were accommodated in Private Emergency Accommodation (hotels, B&Bs, etc.), and just over half were accommodated in Supported Temporary Accommodation (such as hostels with ‘onsite support’).

Analysing available alternatives to emergency accommodation for vulnerable tenants reveals that the problem can run deeper than a straightforward supply shortage.

The standard of accommodation in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) remains inconsistent, despite prescriptive standards and regulations having been established. The permanency sought by those who are placed in temporary emergency accommodation could be tainted by the reality of poorly maintained, deficient dwellings neglected by landlords, some of which may remain undetected if not inspected frequently.

The social housing sector in Ireland has been significantly transformed in recent decades.  According to the ESRI “a greater role has been given to the subsidisation of households renting in the private market”, with growth in the use of the PRS for socially-supported housing rising from 28% during the boom years to 33% by 2016.  Successive Irish governments have largely suppressed the traditional, direct provision of social dwellings in favour of new government-backed schemes such as the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rent Assistance Scheme (RAS), which provide monetary subsidies to social tenants, to assist them in obtaining PRS accommodation. A review of housing support expenditure in 2017 revealed that there was almost €153 million allocated to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and a further €134 million allocated to the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).

Regardless of the current demand and supply mismatch which continue to play out, national and local governments have a responsibility to protect vulnerable tenants.

In 1993 the government issued the first set of minimum standards for rented accommodation nationally which have evolved over time to the latest iteration in 2017, Housing (Standards in Rented Houses) Regulations. These regulations exist with a commitment to highlight non-compliance through periodic inspections of rented dwellings. Ultimately, these measures are to ensure that sub-standard properties are brought in line with regulations, delivering safe and reasonable conditions for all tenants.

Inspex delivers professional, impartial and streamlined PRS inspection services.  From experience, Inspex reveals that private rental accommodation standards can vary greatly.  Quite often landlords are caught unawares when it comes to their regulatory obligations vis-à-vis minimum accommodation standards and their duty to remedy any shortcomings identified in a property.  Things can become more concerning if landlords choose to ignore the regulatory requirements and standards.  In a small number of cases, dwellings inspected by Inspex show squalor-like conditions of Irelands’ historical tenements – damp, mould-ridden and structurally precarious – in the face of which the emergency and temporary accommodation alternative appears almost preferable.

With political preference for the voluntary and private sectors to be the main, if not sole, providers of rental accommodation in Ireland, the growing need for consistent independent inspection regimes throughout the sector becomes ever more apparent.

Despite the sometimes-harsh realities of poor conditions facing vulnerable tenants, perseverance is vital. Local Authorities must persist in their efforts to meet inspection obligations and targets set by the Department of Housing to safeguard the integrity of newly established national ‘social housing’ measures and to enforce on landlords who, in their unwillingness to remediate serious defects, fail to comply.

Landlord ignorance is no excuse and better efforts must be made by many landlords to understand what is required of them and to ensure that compliance is achieved.

Future of Renting

Forever Renters Come Full Circle

“Throughout the 19th Century in Ireland, landownership was the preserve of a privileged minority” (Estate Ownership).  With the average Irish person priced out of the property market and conceding to life as a ‘Forever Renter’, has the market come full circle?

During 18th Century,  leases in Ireland were often held for 99 years or more. By the beginning of 19th Century leasing norms were changing; leases tended to be for shorter periods of one life or 21 to 31 years. In some cases, tenants held their lease from year to year with the law presuming continuation of the lease unless surrendered by the tenant. If a landlord wanted to change a tenancy, he could only do so by litigation and could not evict a tenant without giving 6 months’ notice to quit (Estate Ownership).  So, while historically Irish tenants were similarly subject to a lifetime of renting, the key difference is that tenants-past had the benefit of longevity on their side.

In 1991 the average age of a first-time home buyer was 26; by 2016 that average had risen to age 35.  Research shows that the number of renters aged between 40 and 50 increased from 28,037 to 35,909 between 2011 and 2016, and those in the 45-49 age bracket increased from 19,328 to 23,998 during the same period (CSO).  According to Daft the average asking price has risen nationally by 56.3% since its lowest point in Q3 2013, while in Dublin prices have increased on average by 70% since their lowest point in Q2 2012. The average list price nationwide is now €257k, while in South and North County Dublin the price is €603k and €315.5k respectively.

With the increasing age profile of renters in Ireland, coupled with soaring property prices, latest data shows that home ownership is at its lowest level since 1971 (Independent).

In parallel to rising house prices, Central Bank lending rules impose loan to income (LTI) and loan to value (LTV) restrictions on prospective buyers.  First time buyers are required to have a deposit of 10% of the property value up to €220,000 with a 20% requirement on the balance above €220,000.  Anybody who has previously owned a home must have a deposit of 20% of the full value of the property.  All buyers are restricted to a mortgage of 3.5 times gross annual income.

CSO figures state the average weekly wage at Q3 2018 was €740.32.  This means the average person with the average annual salary of €38,500 was eligible to borrow €134,750.  In other words, the average single person is effectively priced out of the market.  A two-income household with an average salary of €77,000 is eligible to borrow €269,500, meaning they are restricted in their choice of location and potentially priced out of purchasing in Dublin.

With rental prices also increasing (Daft) the difficulty for people living in rented accommodation is to save the required 10-20% deposit required to obtain a mortgage.  This creates a cycle where people are paying rents higher than mortgage repayments for equivalent accommodation and cannot afford to accumulate enough savings to meet mortgage lending requirements.

Professor Tony Fahey from UCD School of Social Policy has suggested that the next generation “may be the first generation since the mid-20th Century, unless things change, that will be entering middle age with possibly a majority in private renting” (Irish Times).  An increase in the needs of social housing tenants follows a similar rise in the overall quantum of tenants in the PRS, translating into a greater national need for the Irish government to provide social housing supports.  Albeit that social housing tenants are increasingly being accommodated in the PRS, the government must, in tandem with its financial supports, continue its support of inspection schemes and targets for Local Authorities.

Irrespective of the factors influencing some tenants remaining in the PRS, it is imperative for both security of tenure and accommodation standards to be prioritised to protect and uphold basic living conditions. Landlords must engage with legislation and regulations already in place for these purposes, while allowing Local Authorities to continue to work towards the inspection targets set to assist in ensuring compliance in the sector.  The status of ‘Forever Renter’ need not have negative connotations if the guidelines and standards within the sector can be protected to ensure safe, comfortable and lengthy enjoyment for tenants and stability of investment for landlords.

Carbon Monoxide - A Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide – A Silent Killer

Gardaí are investigating the death of an elderly couple at their home on the outskirts of Kilkenny last Wednesday. It is understood they may have died of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is hard to detect because it has no smell, taste or colour, meaning it is easy to inhale without realising.  The gas is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood do not burn fully.  Exposure to CO can cause illness or death.

In recent years there has been a push to create awareness around CO, the dangers associated with it and the preventative measures that should be taken.  A public safety initiative ‘Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week’ organised by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and supported by public bodies and organisations involved in the energy sector stresses the importance of regular maintenance and servicing of fuel burning appliances to raise awareness of the potential dangers and eliminate unnecessary risks and save lives.

According to HSE, approx. 40 people in Ireland die each year from accidental CO poisoning.  Further NSAI research shows that over half of Irish households (55%) don’t have a CO alarm while almost 65% of people admitted they could do more to protect themselves from CO poisoning.   Although there is a relatively high level of awareness of the importance of regular maintenance and servicing of fuel burning appliances, one in five admitted it had been 2 years or more since they have last had their boiler serviced, while one in ten households admitted to not knowing when their boiler was serviced last.

The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017 Regulation 6(6) requires that ‘each house shall contain, where necessary, suitably located devices for the detection and alarm of carbon monoxide’.

With the benefit of PRS inspection experience, Inspex can confirm that Local Authorities interpret Regulation 6(6) to mean that CO alarms should be provided in accordance with TGD J5.  This means that the CO alarm should be installed as per the manufacturer’s instructions, in working order and within its ‘end of life’ indicator.  Additionally, CO alarms should:

  1. Comply with I.S. EN 50291- 1:2010 / A1:2012;
  2. Incorporate a visual and audible indicator to alert users when the working life of the alarm is due to pass; and
  3. The manufacturer should have third party certification confirming compliance with the standard.

A sample of properties inspected by Inspex in the last 9 months shows that 100% of properties are in contravention of Regulation 6 of the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017 provision of a RGII Gas or OFTEC CD-11 Certificate with 66% of these properties remaining in contravention following the second and follow-up inspection stage.  At the same time 88% of these properties are in contravention of Regulation 6 CO detector requirements at the first inspection with 31% of these properties remaining in contravention following the second follow-up inspection.

Greater awareness is needed amongst landlords and tenants along with an increase in the maintenance and servicing of appliances and use of carbon monoxide alarms if a reduction in the number of accidental deaths from CO poisoning is ever to be achieved.

The Regulations are in place to protect tenants in rented properties from the harmful effects of CO.

Landlords co-operative and willing

PRS Housing Stock in Good Shape

The Government's Housing Policy Statement 2011 articulated its vision for the private rented sector.  While home ownership may continue to be the tenure of choice for the majority of the population, the policy statement recognised that a balanced housing system needs a strong and well-regulated rented sector.

The Government's Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness - Rebuilding Ireland - identifies the private rented sector (PRS) as key to solving Ireland's current housing difficulties and ensuring that suitable housing is provided to meet Ireland's changing demographic.

Housing standards have evolved over time in line with changes in economic growth and general standards of living. Regulations relating to the standard and quality of housing generally seek to ensure that dwellings do not impinge on the health and safety of tenants; that the accomodation is fit for purpose and that all facilities are in working order. It can be argued that regulations protect both landlords and tenants.

Responsibility for the enforcement of the regulations rests with the relevant local authority supported by a stream of funding provided from a portion of the proceeds of tenancy registration fees collected by the Residential Tenancies Board.

A recent Report by the National Oversight and Audit Commission identified that currently there are low rates of inspection carried out by Local Authorities, few enforcement processes and low rates of compliance. This however is changing.

The Government's Action Plan increased the resources allocated to standard inspections and enforcement functions and has set a target of inspecting 25% of all rental properties by 2021 and annually thereafter.

Every landlord is obliged to ensure that rental properties comply with the relevant legislation including that which is set out in the Housing Acts 1966 - 2014 (as Amended), the Fire Services Acts 1981 & 2003 and Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017.

Under Section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 a person authorised by a housing authority may inspect a house to which regulations under this section apply. So, with ambitious inspection targets set for 2021, Local Authorities are outsourcing their inspection needs to the Inspex team.

Inspex is an indigenous company that has invested and developed unique mobile technology to deliver a standardised approach to PRS inspections and compliance reporting. Currently Inspex partners with several Local Authorities around the country.

Through the Inspex inspection and follow-up inspection process it is determined whether properties meet the standards for rental accommodation.

Where properties do not comply, and landlords are uncooperative, prohibition notices and legal proceedings can be utilised by the revelant local authority.

Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 as amended by the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 Section 34(1) states that any person failing to comply with an improvement notice or re-lets a property in breach of a prohibition notice, can be found guilty of an offence and on summary conviction be subject to a fine of up to €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both. Additionally, where a person is convicted of an offence under the Act, the court can order the person to pay to the local authority costs and expenses.

On a more positive note, from experience, Inspex has determined that the majority of both private and professional landlords are co-operative and willing to keep the rental housing stock in good shape provided they understand what is expected of them.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Appoints Inspex

Dun Laoghaire Appoints Inspex

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has appointed the Inspex team to carry out inspections of private rented properties in the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Area.

The current minimum standards for rented accommodation are set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017.  These regulations specify the requirements in relation to a range of matters including structural repair, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, lighting, fire safety as well as the safety of gas and electrical supply.

All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these Regulations whether part of a housing payment scheme or not.

Responsibility for enforcement of the Regulations is with the Local Authorities supported by funding from DECLG and in part from the proceeds of tenancy registration fees collected by RTB.

If the Government's 2021 25% annual inspection target is to be achieved, Local Authorities, must outsource this to an inspection team with the mobile technology that supports its objectives.

Inspex Ltd. is carrying out inspections of HAP properties in the Area over the coming weeks and will be making contact with Landlords in this regard.

For more information contact Inspex Ltd. at 01-5653927 or email inspections@inspex.ie.