There seems to be a lot of panic in landlord, tenant and journalistic circles about the new rules for basic minimum standards of accommodation. I’ll be honest, I don’t get it.
Take this article in The Independent for instance:
UP to 1,000 pre-1963 rental properties worth an estimated €500m are in danger of being shut down next year because the owners say they cannot comply with new legislative changes demanded by the Government. . .
The IPOA believes that the majority of pre-63 owners, whose buildings hold around 6,000 tenants, have been thus far unable to comply and won’t manage it by the deadline.
The main obstacle it says, is negative equity, which is preventing those who cannot afford to make the costly renovations from selling their properties to someone who can actually afford to undertake the work.
Almost all properties bought since 2002 are now in negative equity.
Well first off, the IPOA are talking about 6000 tenants, but the 2006 census found there were 14,480 tenants living in bedsit accommodation. That already tells you how much of a change has taken place. We’re talking 4-5000 rental units in a rental market of about 200,000 rental units (2%) and a country that has hundreds of thousands of empty properties.
But more importantly, think about what the new regulations actually mean. These are the minimum standards of accommodation as laid out by the act:
- Ensure that the house is in a proper state of structural repair. This means that it must be essentially sound with roof, floors, ceilings, walls and stairs in good repair and not subject to serious dampness or rotting. The new Regulations strengthen this requirement with effect from 1 December 2009 (see below)
- Provide a sink with hot and cold water
- Provide a separate ventilated room with a bath or shower and toilet
- Provide heating appliances for every room lived in
- Provide facilities for cooking and for the hygienic storage of food, for example, a 4 ring hob with oven and grill, fridge-freezer and microwave oven
- Provide clothes washing facilities
- Provide clothes drying facilities if there isn’t a garden or a yard
- Ensure that electricity or gas supplies are in good repair and safe
- Ensure that every room has adequate ventilation and both natural and artificial lighting
- Provide a fire blanket and fire alarms
- Provide access to vermin-proof and pest-proof refuse storage facilities.
Let’s face it, what we’re talking about is your own bathroom, cooking facilities, a washing machine, a clothes rack and a few electric heaters. Even the not so charming bedsit I’ve shown in the picture in the top left probably meets these basic minimum standards. It’s this one by the way, Longwood Avenue, South Circular Road, Dublin 8. There’s a bathroom, there’s an electric radiator visible, there’s central heating, there’s (presumably) hot and cold running water. There’s a fridge, a sink, presumably a cooker. The washing machine might stump them, but as far as I know “laundry facilities” somewhere in the building will cover that.
Oh and a decent bin.