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'Nothing but sharks and vultures' - Calls for enforcement after RTÉ documentary on dodgy landlords

The Prime Time Investigates programme highlighted how some landlords were charging over 20 people hundreds of euro a month.

Image: RTE

CALLS HAVE BEEN made for tougher enforcement on rental properties after an RTÉ investigation exposed a number of homes that were unfit for purpose.

The Prime Time Investigates programme highlighted how some landlords were charging over 20 people hundreds of euro a month for homes that were barely habitable.

Three properties were identified in Dublin. Two have been closed by Dublin Fire Brigade and the third is in the process of being closed.

In one instance, 23 tenants were living in a three-bedroom house in Rathmines. The house had just one shower and two toilets. A rota existed for the use of two small dining tables. Each resident paid €250 a month rent.

One landlord had four properties with 108 tenants, generating €26,000 a month.

The chairperson of housing charity Threshold Aideen Hayden said on the programme that no minimum standards existed.

“We have no legislation under the minimum standards legislation relating to overcrowding.

I think that should be dealt with immediately. That would improve the situation for local authorities in terms of enforcement and the minister could do that today by regulation.

The Peter McVerry Trust called the programme “the tip of the iceberg”.

The head of landlords’ lobby the Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA) Stephen Faughnan said that landlords who engage in such management of properties are “sharks”.

“They are nothing other than sharks and vultures tarnishing the good name of private landlords. The IPOA believe that those engaged in offering and supplying sub-standard and overcrowded accommodation do not even deserve to be called “landlords” in 21st century Ireland.

Their so-called accommodation can only be described as hovels and must be weeded out as this behaviour is disgraceful, distressing and totally unacceptable for both tenants and landlords, but in no way can it be considered the norm for the private rental sector.

“In saying that, we must look at why they exist. The real problem which allowed these few to operate are, outdated and ineffective housing standards inspection criteria carried out in a very limited way by local authorities throughout the country.

“The standard operates on the strict basis of a pass or a fail which is fundamentally unfair. One item wrong in an exam could still give an A grade, but one item wrong in a housing standard inspection is an immediate fail.”

Figures supplied to RTÉ Investigates under Freedom of Information reveal that only 4% of rental properties were inspected last year and of those that were inspected, more than two thirds were not compliant with the regulations.

There was a 100% failure rate in four districts – Kilkenny, Louth, Offaly, Limerick city and county.

The figures show that the overall noncompliance rate for the country stands at 69%.

Read: 16 people in a single bedroom, 64 people renting a house: Documentary shows state of Ireland’s rental ‘nightmares’

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