Not Our Fault Campaign: Homeowners facing up to €68,500 to address building flaws

by Gazette Reporter
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Over 200 people attended a campaign meeting for NOT OUR FAULT at The Plaza Hotel, Tallaght on Saturday last, November 19.

The attendance was made up of residents from several housing developments across Dublin – Park West, Hunterswood of Ballycullen, The Metropolitan, The Tramyard(Inchicore), The Belfy Citywest, Beaumont Court, Cathedral Court and more. 

Park West was developed by Harcourt Developments, and sub-contracted out to P Elliot Company which went into receivership last year. However, during the self-certification period for the building sector during 1991-2013, up to 100, 000 apartments were found to be defective, with lack of proper fire and safety insulation. Homeowners now find themselves having to take on serious debt to bring their homes up to standard. 

One such couple is Odette and Sam Doran who bought their home off the plans in 2003. 

The couple moved into the apartment in 2005 and 18 years later, they find themselves facing a bill of €68,500. 

Despite the couple having surveyors in and solicitors to oversee the signing of contracts, the Dorans realised only in 2015 they had bought a defective, unfinished home. 

“There was a fire certificate issued in 2003 before the building was even built!” said Odette. “Self-certification enabled the builder to cut corners.” 

The first the couple learnt of the safety issues was on August 16, 2022 when Keenan Property Management (KPM) called an AGM with all the development owners. 

“At this meeting we got hit with the bombshell of €15.9m to fix our building – that’s €68,500 per unit, just under €300 per week on top of the cost-of-living crisis! We can’t come up with this kind of money!” 

NOT OUR FAULT Campaign have called on Minister O’Brien to host a face-to-face meeting with disgruntled owners immediately. 

For Deputy Paul Murphy (People Before Profit), the government simply cannot delay on delivering a redress scheme – and should do so before Christmas. 

“Saturday was a very powerful demonstration of frustrated residents and their determination to secure a full redress which must be inclusive (and must include those who have already paid the reparation fees). 

“The government has said that Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien will bring a government scheme by the end of 2022. If it’s anything less than a 100 per cent redress, it won’t be accepted by the injured residents.

“The next step is a protest at 7pm outside the Dáil on Wednesday, December 14, the last week before the Dáil rests for Christmas. These people want to have certainty and comfort before Christmas, they don’t need this hanging over them for Christmas.” 

Citing the comprehensive report of the Working Group in July titled Defects in Apartments – Report of the Working Group to Examine Defects in Housing, the Minister for Housing acknowledges the difficulties that homeowners and residents of these flawed buildings are facing. 

On September 27, the Minister brought a Memorandum to update the government and to inform of the next steps to be taken. He has established an inter–departmental/agency group to bring forward specific proposals to government by the end of the year and in consultation with government colleagues, and will develop options to providing support to homeowners who find themselves in a dire financial situation through no fault of their own. 

In addition, an advisory group to develop a Code of Practice re the Fire Services Acts will be established to provide guidance to building professionals and local authority building control/fire services, including guidance on interim safety measures. The Minister will continue to liaise with key stakeholders and the Housing Agency. 

However, given the overall scale and considerable cost to fix the problem, the Working Group recognised that it will take many years to address all buildings affected, and resources and works will therefore need to be prioritised. 

Deputy Murphy noted the problem was down to a former FG government introducing self-certification to the building sector circa 1990 and then introduced into law by a FF regime, under Minister Padraig Flynn which “caused a massive loophole” in the construction sector. 

Saturday’s meeting was not attended by any FF, Labour or FG representatives, albeit Senator Mary Seery Kearney who has supported NOT OUR FAULT campaign to date, sent apologies as she was attending the FG Ard Fheis. Cllr Rebecca Moynihan (Lab) also sent her apologies. 

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin (SF), Bríd Smith and Paul Murphy (both PBP) attended.

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