Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has said ‘home owners with Celtic Tiger era building defects cant wait until 2024 for redress funding.’
The comments were made following Dáil exchanged with Darragh O’Brien during which the Minister for Housing said he was setting up a cross-Departmental working group to examine options.
Teachta Ó Broin said:
“This week Darragh O’Brien outlined his initial response to the report from the Working Group on Defective Buildings. During Dáil exchanges this week he outlined his intention to set up a cross departmental group to examine options on foot of the Working Group report. This departmental group is to report by the end of the year.
“The Minister also indicated that this would be followed by primary legislation to underpin any new scheme. No time line was given for this legislation.
“Given the length of time it took to set up the Pyrite Remediation Scheme and the two Defective Block Schemes there is now real worry that a scheme for apartment, duplex and house owners impacted by fire safety and other structural defects could mean that no actual redress funding many be available until 2024.
“The cross departmental working group timeline of years end is widely optimistic. Even if this group reports on time it will take months to draft and pass legislation. Then homeowners and owners management companies will have to apply, be approved and contractors appointed before a cent of redress funding will be drawn down.
“In the most optimistic scenario any new redress scheme would not open until mid 2023 meaning funding would not be drawn down until early 2024. Even this timeline is widely optimistic on the basis of the plan as outlined by the Minister this week.
“Homeowners and tenants living in Centric Tiger era defective buildings cant wait until 2024. Many are facing bills of between €20,000 and €70,000 for remediation. If they do not undertake this work their insurance premia will rise or their cover will be withdrawn. Some may face enforcement by the Fire Safety officials. In other cases developments may delay works while waiting for details of the scheme. None of this is acceptable.
“Minister O’Brien needs to act with greater urgency. His officials should start drafting legislation now to amend the terms of the existing Pyrite Remediation Scheme to include wider structural defects. The Pyrite Board already exists, has staff and experience. They could easily and quickly transition, early in 2023, into a wider Building Defects Resolution Board.
“This would enable homeowners and owners management companies to apply in early 2023 for redress and start drawing down funds shortly after. The Minister must also learn from the mistakes of both Defective Block Schemes. Multi-unit developments would be t served by an end-to-end scheme rather than a grant scheme. This would also provide a better mechanism for containing the cost to the exchequer.
“The Minister also needs to consider interim measures for those developments that must under take work now and ensure any scheme include retrospective provisions for those who have had to pay for remediation already.”
For Priority Answer on : 28/09/2022
Question Number(s): 1 Question Reference(s): 47294/22
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: Eoin Ó Broin T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage his plans for a redress scheme for homeowners impacted by Celtic Tiger-era fire safety, water ingress and other structural defects.
The Programme for Government sets out a commitment to examine defects in housing, having regard to the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing’s report Safe as Houses?, and to assist owners of latent defect properties by identifying options for those impacted by defects, to access low-cost, long-term finance. In response, in February 2021, I established a Working Group to examine the matter. The Group was chaired by former Donegal CEO Seamus Neely.
I received the comprehensive report of the Working Group on 29 July titled Defects in Apartments – Report of the Working Group to Examine Defects in Housing, and I published it the following day.
Yesterday, I brought a Memorandum to Government to inform Government of the content of the report and of the next steps that I will be taking.
In that context, I will now, in consultation with Government colleagues, develop options with a view to providing support to homeowners who find themselves in a difficult financial situation through no fault of their own.
Firstly, an inter–departmental/agency group will be established to bring forward specific proposals to Government by the end of the year.
In addition, an advisory group to develop a Code of Practice will also be established, to provide guidance to building professionals and local authority building control / fire services, including guidance on interim safety measures, in line with Recommendation 8 of the Working Group’s report and in the context of the Fire Services Acts.
Finally, I also intend on liaising with key stakeholders such as homeowner representatives and the insurance sector, as matters progress.
I wrote yesterday to the Construction Defects Alliance to inform them of this progress and my Department is also engaging with the Housing Agency for the provision of advise in relation to implementation of the recommendations of the Report.
Finally, it should be noted that the Minister for Finance yesterday announced the introduction of a 10% levy on concrete blocks and other concrete products, with an expected annual yield of €80m. This will provide a sustainable contribution from the construction sector towards the costs of dealing with construction defects over the coming years.