Six members of the 19 government Ministers are landlords. So too are 36% of the entire Fine Gael cohort of TDs. No wonder they do not want to do anything about the scandalous conditions in the private rental sector.
A recent RTE Prime Time investigation showed tenants living in fire traps and in damp properties that could damage their health.
The main reason is that landlords escape regulation. In 2014, for example, just 6% of all rental properties were inspected. The main reason is that the government has deliberately kept the number of inspectors very low.
There are just 65 inspectors in the whole country, employed across all the 31 local authorities. They are supposed to cover 497,111 rental properties.
It is impossible – but it is deliberate. The Irish state’s style is to pretend to have regulation – and then give the rich enough loopholes to ensure that it just stays on paper.
It gets worse.
When inspectors visit a rental property, they normally find that it is sub-standard. Just under 60 percent of rental properties failed to meet basic minimum standards.
Four local authorities – county councils in Donegal, Louth, Offaly and Limerick City Council – saw 100% failure rates.
Despite this many of these properties are not being closed down – because councils fear that more people will be added to the housing list.
So a vicious system has been set up. The Fine Gael led government – and Fianna Fail before them – cut back on council housing, forcing people to rely on landlords for accommodation.
These in turn jacked up rents and used sub-standard accommodation. But because the housing crisis is so bad, tenants are forced to take these properties.
What is the Environment Minister, Eoghan’s Murphy’s, response? Self-regulation!
He wants to allow landlords to certify themselves – rather than setting up a real system of regulation.
Self-certification in the building industry during the Celtic Tiger gave us houses constructed from pyrite, houses built on flood planes and shoddy work generally.
And Fine Gael’s pretense at a housing Minister wants more of the same.
You could not make it up.
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