It has long been suggested that our obsession with owning our homes is a cultural insecurity left over from the days when we were a colonised people, when the idea of a secure home of your own only existed underneath a gravestone.
That obsession has endured, so there’s probably more to it than that old story — and indeed there is.
Today’s “damning” report that, of 756 privately-owned rental properties inspected by Cork County Council last year, 733 (97%) failed to reach standards set down in legislation may indicate why.
Those shocking figures are exacerbated by the council admission that it did not have the resources to inspect more than 5% of relevant properties each year. Private rental properties are, by law, supposed to be inspected once every four years.
So we have another example of our great national accommodation — let’s make a new law, but don’t bother enforcing it.
Not only does this, in this case, expose vulnerable tenants but it also encourages unshakeable cynicism.
It also, most importantly, gives cover to rogue landlords who, in this case, was virtually every one inspected.
The interface of social and property rights is never a calm, contented place. Landlords expect a return for their investment and tenants expect a decent standard of accommodation for the kind of rents charged today.
This report, however, shows that we need to replace lip-service with firm action to protect those dependent on the kindness of landlords.
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