Fingal County Council paid to house tenants – one up to earlier this year – in a rental property in north Co Dublin that has recently been deemed potentially dangerous under fire safety regulations and is also under investigation for alleged planning breaches.
The house in Rush had more than a dozen foreign national tenants living in the property when The Irish Times visited in late March.
In some cases, rooms appear to have been subdivided with plasterboard walls put up to create more bedrooms which, in some instances, are little more than the width of the door.
Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) served a fire safety notice on the house following an inspection at the start of February this year, while Fingal County Council’s planning unit is separately investigating the property.
The State previously supported several tenants in the property under the Housing Assistance Payment (Hap) scheme, where tenants who qualify for social housing support can have a portion of their rent paid for by local authorities.
Under the Hap scheme, landlords are required to self certify that the rental property meets required standards, while local councils are charged with inspecting the properties.
Fingal County Council said it supported two Hap tenancies in the Rush property in recent years, with one tenant renting in the home from May 2018 to September 2019.
The second Hap tenant was renting in the property from late November 2019 until March this year.
“The Hap tenancy ended because of noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the Hap scheme,” a council spokesman said.
“As the property in question remains under review with the relevant authorities, we are unable to provide details which may potentially prejudice or undermine enforcement or other legal actions that may result,” he said.
The Dublin Region Homeless Executive, which co-ordinates homeless services in Dublin, said it previously supported two Hap tenancies in the property in 2019, for a “short duration”.
Following a small fire at the house this January, DFB inspected the property on February 1st and later issued a fire safety notice over the conditions.
A fire notice is served “when a building presents as a potentially dangerous building” under the Fire Services Act, 1981 and 2003, a DFB spokesman said.
Separately, Fingal County Council’s planning unit is investigating the alleged use of a shed on the property for housing without planning permission.
A March 3rd warning letter from the council, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, stated it was investigating a possible “unauthorised development” at the property.
The alleged unauthorised development related to “the use of a shed/garage for habitable purposes without the benefit of planning permission,” the letter said.
A council spokesman said the Residential Tenancies Board and the Revenue Commissioners “have also been notified of suspected breaches of legislation governed by these two bodies”.
The owners of the property, one of whom is listed as the landlord on a recent eviction notice, are appealing the fire safety notice to the District Court.
The owners, who are not being named for legal reasons, themselves live in a rented house in north Co Dublin. The landlord did not respond to several requests for comment from The Irish Times.