Apartment Owners’ Network Welcomes Appointment of Mr. Seamus Neely as Chair of Independent Working Group on Defective Housing

Apartment Owners’ Network Welcomes Appointment of Mr. Seamus Neely as Chair of Independent Working Group on Defective Housing.

The Apartment Owners’ Network has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien T.D., that former Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, Mr. Seamus Neely, has been appointed as Chair of the newly established Independent Working Group on Defective Housing.

Network Director, Des McCabe, said: “The establishment of the Working Group is a very welcome development and a necessary first step in the resolution of an issue that is threatening to cripple the finances of many apartment owners and owners’ management companies throughout the country. Mr Neely will bring a significant breadth of experience to his role as Chair – in particular, his involvement in the remediation process in Donegal for pyrite and mica will be of great benefit.

The Network along with the Construction Defects Alliance looks forward to playing an active role in the Working Group. We are acutely aware of the tight timeframe – it is imperative that the Group’s recommendations can be considered in time for the preparation of Budget 2022. Financial solutions for the estimated 100,000 apartment owners are required urgently.

The Network continues to call for the recommendations of the 2018 “Safe as Houses?” report published by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on House, Planning and Local Government, to be implemented. Of particular relevance for this issue is the recommendation that the government should establish a redress scheme to assist homeowners with latent defects.

The sustainability of higher-density residential accommodation in Ireland is dependent on public confidence in the quality of Irish apartments. The resolution of the longstanding issue of defective construction in multi-unit developments must be addressed to ensure that apartment living is a viable long-term option for both current and future generations.

Renewed call for apartment law reform in Ireland

Press Release of 12 June 2020

The Apartment Owners’ Network calls on parties involved in government formation to implement the recommendations of three recent reports affecting the apartment sector.

Saturday 20 June 2020 marks a year since the publication of ‘Owners’ Management Companies- Sustainable apartment living for Ireland’, a report jointly commissioned by The Housing Agency and Clúid Housing.  Its recommendations are international best practice for regulation and support of Irish residential management companies.

Sunday 14 June 2020 marks the third anniversary of the fire at Grenfell Tower, London.

In May 2018 the Irish Department of Housing’s Fire Safety Task Force reported

The issues in relation to fire safety in apartment buildings may reflect a broader problem in relation to funding of apartment management companies, where there may be significant levels of non-payment of service charges. Without the funding streams from their service charges, Owner Management Companies may be severely limited in their capacity to maintain existing fire protection facilities, let alone to review or tackle other fire safety issues.

Efficient and timely recovery of service charges in apartment blocks needs to be facilitated, so that funding is available to maintain, enhance and replace fire protection facilities.

The Task Force recommended:

  • Fire services to offer training on key life safety issues to management company directors.
  • Efficient and timely recovery of service charges in apartment blocks needs to be facilitated, so that funding is available to maintain, enhance and replace fire protection facilities.

The Apartment Owners’ Network recognises work by fire authorities, local councils, The Housing Agency, and professional bodies, to improve safety and governance in the sector.  Welcome as are these efforts, they do not go far enough.

The Network renews its calls on political parties involved in government formation to deliver on the recommendations of these reports.  We call for the implementation of the recommendations of the ‘Safe as Houses?’ All-Party Oireachtas Housing Committee report of January 2018.

Network Director Bryan Maher said, “The widespread extent of fire safety defects in apartments in Ireland is well-documented.  As a country, in our opinion, we have been relatively fortunate in avoiding a significant fire incident.

Implementation of the recommendations of these three reports will bring Ireland into line with sound practices and systems in countries with a longer history of apartment living. It is past time that our regulatory system caught up with best practice.”, Maher said.

We call for action from those who would govern.”, he added.