Hundreds of city homes in breach of safety regulationsJuly 3, 2012 - 7:00am
By Dara Bradley
Hundreds of homes leased to Galway City Council by private landlords are believed to be in breach of safety regulations.
The local authority has confirmed that it will have to carry out inspections on every house it leases under the Rental Accommodation Scheme and Long-Term Leasing scheme in order to make sure they comply with regulations regarding ‘escape and rescue’.
The Council’s own housing stock, a couple of thousand social houses, will also have to be reviewed because of fears that they do not comply with health and safety.
The situation has been described as farcical by City Councillor Pádraig Conneely, who yesterday brought the issue to the fore. The Fine Gael councillor said that it could mean that families already in Council-leased properties may be forced out of their homes because they do not comply with regulations.
The problem arises following a new interpretation by the Council’s Housing Department of existing laws in relation to homes that are eligible for these two schemes.
It has emerged in the past few weeks that new landlords applying to have their properties included in the RAS and LTL schemes are being refused because the upstairs windows only open 45 degrees when they should open 90 degrees to comply with escape and rescue protocol in the event of a fire.
The Council says that “in some cases” a “very minor adjustment” is necessary to the windows but it is understood replacing windows can cost €100 per window and, in one instance in the west of the city, a landlord has had to fork out over €500 to comply.
The houses that were refused to be included in the schemes were built relatively recently, over the past two decades, and are built to the same spec as houses already in the schemes.
In relation to the thousands of social housing, any adjustments to windows to comply with regulations would have to be funded from the Council’s coffers.
The local authority has confirmed that the existing stock of houses that had been approved up to now will have to undergo inspections once the lease comes up for renewal.
Councillor Conneely said this new interpretation of existing legislation comes as a major setback to the 4,700 on the local authority housing waiting list.
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentine.