Not Our Fault and similar ‘bewildered’ homeowners feeling abandoned and forgotten

by Rose Barrett
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Not Our Fault members and similar Dublin owners of defective homes are feeling totally abandoned and forgotten by Minister for Housing, Daragh O’Brien and this government. 

Owners of a defective home in Crescent Hall, Park West, Odette and Sam claim up to 100,000 affected homeowners throughout the country feel totally neglected and abandoned by the government and Minister O’Brien as they continue to live homes where are fire defective and dangerous. They cannot secure home insurance and are facing massive levies which none of them can afford. And despite assurances in January this year, Minister O’Brien keeps moving the goalposts, time frames and application process for a redress programme.

“Back in 2022, we stepped up and established the Not Our Fault campaign to represent people who bought apartments and duplexes that were built during the self-regulation era of the Celtic Tiger (1991 – 2013). 

“That was when the government allowed the construction sector to self-regulate its own work. No independent overseeing body checked these self-certified buildings which people like Sam and I purchased, people who’d worked hard for a deposit tobuy a home at The Crescent, at Priory Hall and many other estates across Dublin.

“Then you wake up one morning and are told that all is not rosy, and you have dangerous defects in your property – through no fault of ours! We were told we might have to leave our property and that we might lose our insurance on our apartment – and in turn, our mortgage provider will call in our insurance.

“And as we continue to pay high mortgage and insurance rates for properties that are deemed not to be safe, we were all advised to pay up €300 per week for the next five years so that the defects could be fixed!  

“How can anyone pay up €300 per week with 10 mortgage increases in recent years during a cost-of-living crisis?” fumed Odette, who feels totally abandoned by empty promises and ‘commitments’ by Minister O’Brien, with no fast application for the promised redress funding announced last year.

After heavy and repeated protesting, Not Our Fault and other frustrated homeowners went into the Dáil on December 6, 2022 where they listened to Deputies and Ministers speak about the appalling experiences and challenges of owners of defective homes and none of this crisis was down to the property owners.

“We were assured the Minister would be making an announcement before the Christmas recess,” said Odette. “But noannouncement was made; it was made on January 18 this year when Minister O’Brien announced there would be a 100 per cent redress and he would have emergency funding and interim measures in place until the scheme is up and running.”

With total exasperation, Odette and husband Sam Doran catalogue a face-to-face meeting on February 22, with Minister O’Brien who told them there was €2.5bn to put a scheme in place but the scheme had yet to set up.  After that, the couple claimed every thing promised just shifted around and over 8 months later, there’s still nothing in place!

“We discussed the insurance issues, and gave the minister a copy of our insurance policy. He said he would contact them and we never heard another word! Our insurance used to be €38,000 and now it’s €192,000. How can we or anyone else afford this?

“He assured us he would get in touch with the banks and organise 0% finance on loans to carry out remediation works. We left the meeting telling everyone that help was on the way! We felt so positive on the day. Despite the Minister being busy, he was going to sort everything but my God, here we are going into November and not one issue has been addressed.

“How wrong we were to put our faith in the Minister and this government! Up to date, not one fire alarm has been delivered and not one emergency light delivered; neither has one single safe exit been provided out of a building these were all supposed to be part of the emergency funding until the scheme was up and running. 

“No help with insurance so nothing only empty promises and the goal posts keep moving all the time. Minister O’Brien started off with emergency funding that changed then to the ‘Hardship Fund’. Now it has changed to interim fire safety funding. He said he needed the Code of Practice to help implement the scheme in July 2023 the code of practice was released in our opinion this is 20 years too late. Where was the Code of Practise for the developers when they were building and knew they were signing off on defective houses!

“We have been outside the Dáil on Kildare Street every Wednesday since March protesting, and we have emailed the Minister every Monday with an update on behalf of up to 100,000 affected homeowners in the same boat. We have had a couple of webinars with the Minister – futile as we can’t engage in them! 

“This week, we received a reply from his office that he had nothing new to offer at this time. We received an update from the Construction Defects Alliance on Friday last, October 27 the application process would be open at the end of November.

“We were told at the last webinar that this would be open at for applying for funding at the end of October/ early November 2023 so it seems the Minister has nothing in place for this year. The time frame just keeps moving back and back, and there’s no reprieve or end for us in sight.

“He also said they hoped to have legislation for the scheme in Spring 2024. God knows when this scheme will be up and running and the implementation of the full redress scheme will probably have to fall on the next government to deal with.

“We cannot afford the massive levies forced upon us, for defects that were not our fault and deliberately overlooked. Some are before the courts as they could not afford these huge levies, and many are pensioners who downsized and thought they were getting smaller, less expensive homes to maintain.”

Ms Doran notes there were many homeowners she knew of, who are sleeping with a fire extinguisher beside their bed and many who feel they will have to resort to buying a rope ladder to get down to a lower floor with a balcony. 

“In November 2018, the Minister was in an opposition party, and he was campaigning for this, he said. And here we are nearing the year end of 2023 and there is no urgency from his department at all. These are fire defects, Minister O’Brien, not merely a leak in the roof!”

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