A ‘COMMON sense’ approach to the refurbishment of vacant council houses is needed to solve the serious crisis in housing at present, according to Cllr Paul Hayes (SF).
Speaking at a meeting of Cork County Council this week, Cllr Hayes raised a motion calling on the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of State for Housing to urgently revisit the current restrictions on the refurbishment of Council houses.
‘Potential tenants should be allowed to paint and refurbish and carry out light restructural work to bring a house up to the standard and this would expedite the turnaround time between Council houses being left vacant by one tenant, and being allocated to another tenant,’ said Cllr Hayes.
‘Money is being drip-fed from the government and restrictions should be eased on tenants in order to carry out work like cleaning, painting and redecorating.’
Fianna Fail Cllr Seamus McGrath said he has raised the issue of voids – empty houses – on numerous times at previous Council meetings but he said Cllr Haye’s motion does have some merit.
Fine Gael Cllr Kevin Murphy also agreed that there is some merit in Cllr Hayes’ proposal.
‘We need to speed up the process too and put more contractors on our panels as our framework does not provide enough contractors,’ said Cllr Murphy.
Cllr Joe Carroll said that the Council should be ‘stronger on people who walk away and leave a house in a shocking state after them.’
Cllr Pat Buckley said that turnaround times should be accelerated and pointed out that there are health and safety issues with empty houses being boarded up.
Chief executive Tim Lucey said that this was a very complex area.
‘We have a duty to ensure that Council houses are fit for purpose and we have to ensure that works carried out on them are carried out to health and safety standards which are recognised,’ said Mr Lucey.