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Home owners calling for access to emergency funding earlier this year.
Defective Homes

Interim support scheme for owners of apartments with fire safety defects opens today

A full statutory scheme for remedial works to be carried out to all impacted apartments will be legislated for next year.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS today launched the opening of a financial support scheme for people who own apartments and duplexes constructed between 1991 and 2013 that have fire safety defects. 

The Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has said that the Interim Remediation Scheme will provide for the “full funding of interim measures” in order to provide “an acceptable level of fire safety in buildings, pending completion of full remedial works”. 

These full works are to be funded by a statutory scheme that will be legislated for next year, according to the Minister, who said work is underway to draft the legislation.

This development comes after years of campaigning by affected owners and families. 

Residents of the Crescent Apartment Building in Parkwest, Dublin, found out in 2022 that each owner would need to pay over  €68,000 to remedy fire safety defects in the building. 

These defects mean that a fire could spread rapidly throughout the building. The most well-known example of this in recent years was the Grenfell apartment building fire in the UK, which claimed 73 lives. 

In different buildings, owners in buildings that share community areas have had to take part in votes on whether they should pay for fire safety works to be carried out. 

In the Broadmeadows apartment complex in Swords, the owners of apartments were told they would have to pay an initial levy €5,000 for remedial works to be carried out, as well as an additional payment of the same amount at a later date.

They were told they’d have to pay after the owner management company (made up of property owners) voted in favour of paying the levy over three years. 

However, some owners had said that they were unable to pay their share of the levy due to the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. They received a letter informing them that debt collection would take place if the fee was not paid. 

“Mortgage interest rates are increasing every couple of months, apartment management fees have increased, prices in general are increasing making it very hard to live, let alone afford to pay a fire levy that is no fault of our own,” one owner within the complex told The Journal in August. 

The Government has been under pressure to introduce an emergency funding mechanism to assist owners and families being impacted by fire safety defects. 

The scheme that opens today is aimed at seeing these homeowners get their “homes and lives back together,” the Minister for Housing said. 

It will ensure that important measures can be put in place immediately to guarantee the long-term safety of the many thousands of apartment residents across Ireland.

“I am delighted that the housing agency has committed their knowledge and resources to helping to design and now operate this Scheme on a nationwide basis.

“Their experience and expertise gained over many years in, for example, the Pyrite Remediation Scheme and the Enhanced Defective Concrete Blocks,” he added. 

Part of the reason why an interim scheme is being introduced for immediate and short term works to be carried out is because the Department of Housing has recognized that it may take “several years” to fully remediate all of the fire safety defects in impacted buildings. 

Defects in apartments built between 1991 and 2003 are widespread. The Working Group to Examine Defects in Housing last year reported that between 50% and 80% of the buildings constructed in this time period are impacted. 

This roughly equates to between 62,500 and 100,000 apartments/duplexes being affected by one or more defect, including structural safety and water ingress issues. 

Ther average cost of the full remediation works that will need to be carried out in the long-term is around €25,000 per unit. The full statutory scheme could have a potential cost of between €1.5 billion and €2.5 billion.

Only defects that have been attributed to defective design, defective or faulty workmanship, or defective materials that were in contravention of the parts of the building regulations in place at the time of construction will be eligible for the statutory scheme. 

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