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Fire Safety

Builders' levy should help pay for works on thousands of defective apartments, says Bacik

Government will have to provide assistance, Leo Varadkar has said.

A LEVY SHOULD be imposed on the construction sector to help pay for remediation works on thousands of defective apartments, Labour leader Ivana Bacik has said.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said in Britain the cost of remediation works on defective apartments is being met through a levy on construction sector, and the same should happen in Ireland.

“I think that’s the sort of measure that needs to be looked at here. And I imagine government will move on that,” she said.

In the Dáil yesterday, Bacik said that “up to 80% of apartments built between 1991 and 2013″ may be affected by construction defects.

A report on defective homes, which is due be concluded next week, will show that “up to 100,000 apartments have been affected by fire safety and other defects – with up to 44,000 in the process of being remediated right now”, said Bacik.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said “there will have to be Government assistance for people who, through no fault of theirs, purchased apartments that are in buildings where there are defects and those defects have to be repaired”.

It is estimated that remediation works could cost between €1.7 billion and €2.8 billion.

Building safety fund

Bacik said today that she does not believe that a levy imposed on the construction sector should be passed on to the taxpayer through higher prices. 

“I don’t think it should,” she said, adding that in Britain construction firms are paying into a building safety fund.

“We haven’t seen that passed on we have to recall also the you know, the rate of inflation and the construction construction sector already. Clearly we do want to ensure that costs are not passed on to the consumer. So that’s a huge issue,” she said.

While the issue is in properties in every county in Ireland, it is a particularly acute problem in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Dublin South-Central, Dublin Bay North and Dublin Fingal, Bacik has said. 

Varadkar said that it is an important issue and one that he is very familiar with as it is impacting his own constituents.

People in limbo

“People have been sent bills, sometimes for €10,000 and sometimes for as much as €60,000 per apartment, to carry out necessary repairs. The inevitable happens.

“Some people can afford to pay, some cannot afford to pay and some people will not pay. Therefore, the money cannot be raised and the work cannot be carried out, so people are left in a terrible limbo where they are unable to sell the apartment and they worried about whether it is even safe for them to continue to live there,” he said. 

The Government responded to the issues that arose with pyrite and mica, said Varadkar.

“I believe we will need a response to assist people who are facing large bills as a result of defects in apartments. I cannot give any commitments at this stage… a working group on this was established by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O’Brien. A report is due. I have not seen the report but I believe it is imminent or close to being completed,” said Varadkar. 

“Once we have that report we will be able to give consideration to it,” he said. 

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