‘Abandoned’ owners of apartments with building defects appeal for redress

by Rebecca Ryan

Building defects in South Dublin were discussed at an Oireachtas committee meeting last Thursday.

The housing committee heard from a group representing owners of apartments with structural defects, said that up to 92,000 boom-era apartments may be affected by defects including fire safety issues.

The Construction Defects Alliance (CDA) are calling for State redress to help those affected.

In an opening statement, the group’s spokesperson Kath Cottier, said that owners of apartments with structural defects are under huge stress with the financial burden, and they have essentially been left “holding the baby”.

She said: “The seriousness of defects and the scale of the costs involved in remediating the problem varies from location to location. In Beacon South Quarter – where there are almost 900 apartments – the cost of fire remediation works is over €9 million.

“Each owner has been levied for the costs of these and other works, and the average bill is almost €13,500 per apartment – some bills are higher and some are lower depending on the size of the apartment concerned.

“Beacon also has considerable water ingress problems, but we’re in the middle of negotiating a settlement to an insurance claim. Depending on the outcome of that process, we may need to go back to the homeowners to look for more money to complete the water ingress remediation works.”

Ms Cottier went on to say that the situation has caused “extreme stress, worry and strained relations” and there is a real concern of having difficulty selling their properties in the future.

She added that the homeowners are “deeply frustrated” at the inaction of the government.

“The Construction Defects Alliance would strongly challenge the notion that the State has no responsibility in this matter, because the defects concerned are all breaches of the Building Regulation,” said Ms Cottier.

The CDA are calling for a redress scheme to assist homeowners with “latent defects” and provision of an information and advice service,

Green Party Deputy Leader and TD for Dublin Rathdown, Catherine Martin, told Dublin Gazette the homeowners have been “abandoned by government”.

“Families living in defective buildings are terrified. They are facing huge bills because of corners cut in construction by cowboy developers, and many are living in fear as their families are stuck in potentially dangerous homes.

“And yet time and again, the Taoiseach and members of his Government have refused to acknowledge that the state has any role in fixing this problem.

“Will it take a tragedy to occur, or lives to be lost, before the Government takes action here?

“This is a problem right across the country, and Government needs to sit up and act now to tackle it.”

Deirdre Ní Fhloinn, Green Party Housing Spokesperson and Councillor for Glencullen/Sandyford said: “The situation faced by homeowners dealing with defective homes is not right and it is not just.

“Practical reliefs, like tax relief, which will put minimal cost to the exchequer would be warmly welcomed by affected homeowners in helping to ease the burden of making their homes safe – particularly as the Government already provides similar tax reliefs to developers.

“The Construction Defects Alliance will be a strong advocate for those affected – and Government can no longer continue to abandon these homeowners.”

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