The Government in the Republic of Ireland has said it will examine proposals for an MOT-style test for rented accommodation. This move follows claims of slum landlords allowing extreme overcrowding and providing very dangerous accommodation.
In one case in Dublin overcrowding in a rental had 16 people to a room, 64 tenants in a single property.
Politicians and charities in the Republic are calling on the government to introduce the checks to help clamp down on “slum landlords” who rent out properties well below minimum residential standards.
One charity has said that the current system where, as in the UK, local councils are responsible for checking rented accommodation “is not fit for purpose”.
Dr Aideen Hayden, the chairwoman of the Threshold charity said:
“Local authorities do not have the capacity to inspect and effectively enforce minimum standards,”
“The penalty should be severe so that there is no excuse for being outside the system. Inspections would then focus solely on whether the landlord held a certificate of compliance.”
The current regime, as in the UK, relies on landlords “being caught” but the prospect of this, according to Dr Haden, is slim. Adding that the most dangerous housing in the country was often occupied by the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in society, “There is no fear of the consequences in the absence of regulations and proper inspections”
Responsible landlords in the UK have long campaigned for improved systems of inspection to drive out rogue landlords. These rogues represent a small proportion of the UK landlord market as a whole, but contribute to misery for low income tenants and bad publicity for all landlords out of all proportion to their number.
Interestingly, the situation in Ireland appears to mirror exactly the UK experience: according to landlord bodies, cash strapped local authorities just don’t seem to have the capacity to adequately enforce existing laws on rogue landlords.