Rogue landlords who do not bring their properties up to standard will be taken to court by Louth County Council – but tenants receiving HAP payments will see those cease, leaving them in difficulty in meeting rent costs.
The issue was raised at Monday’s September meeting of the Drogheda Borough Council by Independent councillor Declan Power who queried how sanctions were imposed on landlords who were failing to keep their properties up to requisite standards.
“Some of these landlords have let their properties go to almost rack and ruin,” he said. “When the council issue improvement notices, in some cases several, how are sanctions imposed? I know some don’t comply.
The Clogherhead-based councillor referred to a tenant, a HAP client, in Drogheda who is living in a basement flat and four years ago discovered there was a sewer and a manhole cover in their apartment. It was covered by carpet.
“It is certainly a cause for public concern,” he said. “Surely tough sanctions should be imposed on rogue landlords who take in HAP tenants and don’t repair and look after the property?
He suggested there should be a certificate of compliance that a landlord would have to comply with, before renting their properties.
Director of Services for Housing at Louth County Council Paddy Donnelly outlined the difficulties experienced by the local authority in carrying out HAP inspections.
What is HAP?
“Carrying out these inspections is a challenge to our teams. On occasion, the landlord will fail to engage with us to facilitate an inspection. We don’t take that very lightly. We insist on access,” he said.
“Tenants in these properties are also causing us difficulty. The are aware if we identify a property they are in and we issue an improvement notice, they are aware the landlord may not put right the problem. They don’t necessarily want to move and are happy to ensure. That’s unfortunate. We don’t want that. We want the property up to standard.
“We will bring this matter to court where necessary. If there is a HAP client, the HAP payment will cease initially. That may cause a problem for the tenant but we will work with them on that.”
He said identifying HAP properties continued to be a “huge problem.” As of the end of May this year, there were 181 HAP inspections carried out by Louth County Council. The local authority issued seven improvement orders.