Nine out of 10 privately rented properties in Cork county have failed to meet recommended living standards.
Fire safety concerns and insufficient ventilation of open fires and solid fuel stoves, along with infrastructural deficiencies, were among the breaches of government-set regulations on rented properties.
A total of 524 of the 559 houses inspected by Cork County Council were below standard. Furthermore, one of 179 houses inspected under the HAP (Housing Assistance Planning) scheme — in which local authorities directly pay landlords — passed the minimum set down.
A report issued to councillors by Mary Ryan, the council’s director of housing, identified five common faults, including an insufficient number of smoke alarms and fire blankets.
The senior official reported, in other cases, fixtures and fittings were substandard while heating facilities were inadequate due to insufficient ventilation.
Inability by landlords to provide gas and electricity certification at time of inspections was another stumbling block, as was lack of mechanical extractor vents in bathrooms.
Ms Ryan said landlords involved were immediately provided with a written schedule of requirements, following an inspection detailing the deficiencies to be rectified.
Under the social housing HAP scheme, all properties must be inspected by council officials within eight months of a new tenancy.
However, Ms Ryan said that, of the 179 inspections, only 105 were completed within the recommended timeframe.
She said while there were a number of inspections outside the eight-month period, the majority would have just been a week or two late.
In her report, she said: “Quite a number of inspections are postponed or rescheduled by either landlord or tenant which may result in the inspection being pushed beyond the eight- month period.
“Rescheduled appointments are generally inspected on the next full-day scheduled in a given area, in order to maximise the use of resources.”
Sinn Féin councillor Des O’Grady, who sought the information, said it was “by any measure a damming report”. He was critical of government funding cuts for council inspections and the continued failure to fund local authorities to construct social housing.
He said such inaction was “forcing people into the rental sector at the low end of the market”.
Mr O’Grady further claimed a number of rented properties he had visited were “an absolute disgrace”.
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