WHILE it is an imperative that standards be applied, there is also a duty on local authorities to minimise the time that houses are left vacant, Cork South West Independent Deputy Michael Collins told the Dáil.
Speaking during a debate on a motion on standards in the private rented sector, he said there should be a strict limit on the turnover time for social housing.
He referred to Wetherton, Bandon, which have been waiting weeks on end to have people appointed to houses that have been completed and are ready for habitation.
‘This is only to mention one example in West Cork, but there are many more, which is unacceptable,’ he said. The housing issue facing Ireland is beyond crisis point, he added.
Tenants’ lives are being put at risk by unscrupulous landlords’ disregard for basic health and safety and fire standards, he said, referring to the recent RTÉ exposé on the rented sector.
‘To say that there is a significant shortage of available properties around the country is an understatement,’ he said. ‘However, going by figures released in the 2016 census, there are 260,000 vacant houses. This is a disgrace. It is commonsensical that these houses would go a long way towards solving the immediate housing crisis.’
Deputy Collins said he spent weeks with the Minister of State Damien English and his colleagues discussing matters during the formation of the Government. ‘I was glad that the Government took on board the issues and suggestions raised by the Rural Independent Group about changing the use of units from commercial to residential and included them in A Programme for a Partnership Government. However, I am disappointed that little progress has been made in this regard. Urgent action is needed to solve this problem.’