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Social housing, investor properties to be excluded from redress scheme

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Social housing and apartments owned by investors are to be excluded from a redress scheme for fire safety and structural defects in Celtic Tiger apartments, the Irish Examiner has learned.

A working group on how to recompense apartment owners for the defects is expected to issue its report in June, but it has now emerged that only owner-occupiers, believed to represent around one-fifth of all apartment owners affected, will be covered by the scheme.

The group was set up last year as part of a process to address the defects which began with an Oireachtas Housing report in December 2017 recommending the establishment of a redress body for stricken homeowners.

A Dáil committee was told in 2019 that there could be up to 100,000 apartments in need of remedial work.

According to sources, departmental officials in the working group are claiming that the wording in the Safe As Houses report specifically recommends that redress should be focused on owner-occupiers.

The Safe As Houses report recommended that a redress scheme be set up for “ordinary owners who purchased in good faith”. However, the author of the report, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin told the Irish Examiner that any such interpretation of the Safe As Houses report was “very disingenuous”.

“It’s very disingenuous to use the Safe As Houses report as cover for this, because as the author of the report it was always clear to me that the local authority and AHB properties would have to be included.”

Clúid, the largest Approved Housing Body (AHB) providing social housing in the State has already paid out €1.5m for remedial work and expects to pay the same figure by the end of this year. The body has also made provision to spend another €21m on remedying defects over the next seven years.

In a submission to the working group, Clúid stated that the system by which it is having to fund the defects is not sustainable and “results in diverting funds away from much-needed new supply. A solution to remedy the mistakes of the past must be devised and be equitable.”

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