Housing Minister wants laws to prosecute landlords of overcrowded properties

The Housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy, claims he wants to prosecute rogue landlords who deliberately overcrowd their properties.

Mr Murphy says it is a serious offence and he is going to ensure the rules are enforced.

His comments follow a Prime Time report which found dangerously cramped conditions in the private rental sector.

In the Dáil last night, Minister Murphy promised change.

He said: "Particular attention will be given to possible amendments to the provisions in relation to overcrowding, both in terms of its legal definition and enforcement actions and sanctions applicable to such situations.

"I take the view that enabling and causing deliberate, unsafe overcrowding is a very serious offence, and I will treat it as such in the legislation to come.

"What was witnessed was horrendous and degrading. Noone should have to live like this, noone should be allowed to live like this.

"The property shown has been closed down and the landlord is being pursued, as is only right and proper.

"It would seem that this was not an accidental breach of standards, rather it would appear to be the wilful and deliberate exploitation of a powerless group of people in our community. This is not the Ireland that we stand for, not for the people in this republic or those that we would invite to come to live and work and contribute."

Sinn Féin brought a motion last night calling for an NCT-style certification system for rental accommodation.

Housing Spokesperson Eoin O'Broin also wants rogue landlords to face jail sentences.

He said: "There needs to be a change and a comprehensive review of the sanctions and punishments for landlords that break the rules.

"What we need to see is a broader range of offences and punishments commensurate with the breaches. I also have to say it should include a clear possibility of imprisonment for those landlords that wilfully put people's lives at risk for the first offence."

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