Cork City Council has doubled the number of property inspectors on its books as it aims to improve its rate of inspection of private rented dwellings.
The move is being undertaken in response to the relatively low level of property inspections in private rented dwellings in the city in recent years.
Of 16,997 registered tenancies in Cork City Council's local authority area in 2018, just 698 - 4.1% - were inspected. Of these, 80% were non-compliant with standards regulations.
While the rate of non-compliance is better than the national average, the rate of inspection is worse.
The figures were included in the annual report by the National Audit Oversight Commission, the independent watchdog of local government. NOAC assesses the performance of local authorities on a number of aspects, including housing, roads, social media engagement and job creation.
The report was critical of the poor level of inspection of private rented dwellings nationally.
In 2018, of 322,230 registered tenancies, just 23,824 were inspected. It is just 7.39% of the total national stock.
The number of inspected dwellings that are found not to be compliant with the standards regulations continues to be high at 82.99% or 19,771 dwellings, according to NOAC.
The report notes that a significant number of local authorities nationally see a high percentage of inspected dwellings as not being compliant with standard regulations.
Louth, Limerick, Kilkenny and Galway County are all listed as 100% in this regard, with a further eight authorities above 90%, including Dublin City (95.14%), Cork County (94.21%), and Galway City (99.56%).
Just three local authorities had failure rates of less than 50%: Cavan (29.58%), Wexford (4.65%) and Wicklow (37.24%).
Local authorities have advised that the number of non-compliant dwellings that became compliant in 2018 was 5,466, a significant increase on the 2017 figure of 3,329.
This included some 2,195 in Dublin City, as well as 707 in Wexford, 227 in Donegal and 139 in Cork city.
Brian Geaney, the head of housing at Cork City Council, said that it is council policy "to provide an inspection service that is to the highest achievable standards so that private rented accommodation available within the city continues to be of a high quality and compliant with the relevant regulations".
"Cork City Council’s Private Rented Housing Inspection team is responsible for inspection of privately rented housing within Cork City. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) has set targets for Cork City Council's inspections for the period 2018-2020. Cork City Council is committed to progressing towards meeting the targets," Mr Geaney said.
He noted that steps are being taken to improve response times and the level of inspection in the city.
"To ensure a high-quality inspection service, we continuously review and improve working practices, systems and participate in the DHPLG’s working group. The city council has increased our inspector numbers by 100% from three to six to the end of 2019.
"To this end, Cork City Council is committed to actively pursuing all strategies for increasing staffing of the unit insofar as is practicable within the practical and financial constraints faced by the organisation. In addition, where feasible, we are exploring alternative supports for inspections to maintain targets whilst we seek to increase our resource numbers to sustainably achieve further increasing inspection targets, as set out by the Department."