More than 80% of owners of defective homes unable to sell

Up to 100,000 properties may be affected by historical fire safety and other defects which could cost €2.5bn to fix, report finds

More than 80 per cent of owners of defective homes have been unable to sell their properties due to the issues, a Government report on the issue has found.

The report on defective apartments, published on Thursday, outlined how up to 100,000 properties may be affected by historical fire safety and other defects and that remedying them could cost up to €2.5 billion.

As part of a survey underpinning the work, 172 homeowners detailed their experience of trying to sell a home since the discovery of defects. The report said “82 per cent of them indicated that they had been unable to sell their homes or perceived that the presence of defects made it more difficult to sell them”.

Under recommendations in the report, some owners of defective homes face seeing their properties restored to a lower standard than applied when they were originally built.


It recommends that “where practicable” apartments should be remediated to the standard that applied at the time of their original construction. However, where it is not practicable, the report recommends that “alternative approaches and options” be considered that provide a “reasonable level of life safety protection” in accordance with the Fire Services Act.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said on Thursday he would consult Government colleagues over the summer break about next steps. Asked if he could guarantee that homeowners wouldn’t be asked to foot some of the bill, he said he couldn’t but “all I can say to homeowners is I’m going to do absolutely everything in my power as Minister to help as much as we can”.

State aid

He said he would do “everything I can to make sure that the State helps as much as it can to defray the cost” and that an industry-wide levy was a possibility – but he would not be drawn on a preferred approach.

The report outlined that a levy targeted specifically at builders responsible would not be feasible and, while pointing out issues with a wider levy, did not close the door on it.

Mr O’Brien said he was “angry with some of the developers that have, through really poor workmanship and bad practices, left people with these issues”.

“For those who have really made it so difficult for people over the last 15-20 years. I think they’ve got to reflect on themselves and how they feel about the issue that they have left people with.”

Eoin Ó Broin, the Sinn Féin housing spokesman, welcomed the publication of the report. He called on the Government to establish a “Celtic Tiger-era building defects redress scheme”, adding details of the scheme must be included in September’s budget announcement. He said the “quickest and most effective way to do this would be to repurpose the Pyrite Resolution Board”.

Cian O’Callaghan, the Social Democrats housing spokesman, said the Government had failed to hold developers to account and called on Mr O’Brien to introduce mandatory latent building defects insurance for all developers and establish an independent regulator of the construction industry.

The Construction Defects Alliance (CDA), which represents affected homeowners, said the Government needs to act in the upcoming budget. Pat Montague, its spokesman, said the report was “stark”. He said retrospective financial assistance for those already engaged in works to remedy issues should be made available in the budget.

“Any delay in doing so will, unfortunately, lead to the very unnecessary risks to health and safety the working group is warning about,” he said.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times