State faces class action on housing

by Ian Begley

BALGADDY is included among the 20 local authority estates that have filed a class action against the State, alleging that poor-quality housing is breaching their human rights.

The collective complaint alleges that Irish law, policy and practices on social housing do not comply with European standards, and was declared admissible by the European Committee of Social Rights in Strasbourg.
Residents of Balgaddy and other housing estates around Dublin say they are living with damp, mould and pyrite that affects health and wellbeing.
The Community Action Network was involved in gathering evidence to back up the complaint and said the conditions these tenants lived in were a violation of their human rights and health.
Dr Padraic Kenna, one of the Irish housing and legal experts behind the complaint, said that much local authority housing fell well short of the legal standards set for private rented housing.
He said: “While local authorities carry out a range of limited inspections of private rented properties, there are no such inspections of local authority housing. This illustrates the clear conflict of interest in this situation and the failure to respect the rights of local authority tenants. The result is that the same standards expected for private tenants are not applied on behalf of the State’s own tenants.”
South Dublin County Council has told The Gazette there is no systemic construction defect in Balgaddy causing dampness or structural issues, and that all identified defects have been remedied.
In contrast, the Balgaddy Working Together Group conducted an independent inspection of the properties within the estates in Balgaddy and have identified serious problems with mould and dampness.
The group’s Lorraine Hennessey believes this collective complaint is a stepping stone in highlighting the serious problems within the social housing estates in Balgaddy.
She said: “In this collective complaint we found [poor quality housing] was affecting many residents out of all the local authorities in Dublin. At a community level, we tried to raise this issue in the Dail and the door was just shut in our faces.
“Hopefully, now the residents from Balgaddy and the other residents who have been affected by poor quality housing will be listened to and taken seriously.”
Clondalkin Cllr Eoin O Broin (SF) has called for “urgent action” from the council.
He said: “For years, a significant number of residents living in Balgaddy have been complaining about persistent damp and mould in their council homes.
“The council has carried out inspections of these properties and undertaken some remedial work. However, they continue to deny that the damp and mould are the result of the poor quality of the buildings themselves.
“However, we know from an independent engineers’ report in 2011 that the poor quality of the building work created a higher than normal level of dampness in houses in Balgaddy.”
Cllr Francis Timmons (Ind) has prepared a motion for the April local authority meeting on the issue.
He said: “Hopefully, [the council] will step up and resolve the many issues in Balgaddy and other areas.”

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