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Social housing residents could be charged for maintenance work

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A nominal fee could be charged to residents living in social housing as part of the planned maintenance programme.

Senior Executive Engineer with Clare County Council, Tony Neville updated members of the Social Development SPC on the property surveys which have been conducted between June 5th and November 22nd on social housing throughout the county.

99 percent of houses in phase 1 of Ennis have been surveyed with 93 percent of those in phase 3 completed. North Clare has 95 percent conducted and West Clare 93 percent. East Clare and Shannon have 69 and 67 percent respectively while only 28 percent of Traveller Accommodation Sites have been surveyed so far.

In total, 2081 surveys have been completed which equates to 84% of the total stock, 385 houses are yet to be surveyed, Although, Shannon and East Clare had much less done than other areas, Neville maintained, “we’re still on track to complete them by year end”.

“A pilot tender to include approximately 40 units from Ennis Phase 1 will be advertised shortly. This will include all Statutory Items listed in the Housing Regulations 2017 (Standards for Rented Houses). These items include the provision of: smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire blanket and window restrictors”.

Chairperson of the SPC, Cllr Gerry Flynn flagged, “The funding issue is going to be a problem I think for the Council. It isn’t a catch all”. Senior Executive Officer, Siobhán McNulty in reply highlighted the pressure their maintenance budget is under pressure, “There are some necessary arrangements that have to be done to the housing stock, we’re looking at possibility of doing these works and charging a nominal fee. Our maintenance budget is very constrained and under significant pressure every year and we may need to change our approach”.

Director of Service for Social Development, Anne Haugh confirmed the Council was being looked at as a pilot at national level for planned maintenance. “It is accepted now that much of the vacant stock has been returned and made usable again. The investment required when changing tenancies should be much less. In order to get to that place, we have quite an investment to make on our stock”.

Thomas Guilfoyle, the trade union representative on the SPC noted, “The figures start very high but there is no reference to the bottom category, traveller sites”. According to Neville, “we have had no issues to date, statutory items are being done at traveller sites”.

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