‘Race against time’ for €2.5bn apartment remediation scheme as timeline pushed back

Legislation is now due to pass in 2024, with payments set to be in place later that year — close to next election

A €2.5 billion scheme to fix defective Celtic Tiger-era apartment blocks may not come on stream during the lifetime of this Government, with the timeline for new laws slipping until the middle of next year at least.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, who secured Cabinet approval for the long-awaited scheme in January, indicated in March that he wanted the legislation to pass “this year”, but that has now been pushed back.

In response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin, Mr O’Brien said he now expects draft legislation in the first half of next year and then the statutory scheme governing payouts to be in place “later in 2024″.

Campaigners now say the Coalition is in a race against time to get the scheme up and running before a general election.


In an update to members last week, the Construction Defects Alliance (CDA) — which represents affected homeowners — predicted that it will be late spring 2024 before the initial draft of the legislation will be ready to go to the Oireachtas housing committee for pre-legislative scrutiny.

“On this basis, the best-case scenario is that the legislation might be passed before the next general election with implementation of the scheme falling to the next government,” the CDA update outlined. “This is clearly far from ideal but we are where we are.”

Mr Ó Broin said the news would come as a “body blow” to those living in Celtic Tiger-era defective properties. “Minister O’Brien had repeatedly promised that the legislation would be introduced this year and the full redress scheme would open in 2024.″

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He also said Mr O’Brien had promised interim funding would be available this year for emergency works designed to mitigate risks from fire safety before the full scheme is up and running, but that it was looking “increasingly likely” that no emergency funding will be available this year.

He said the Pyrite Resolution Board, set up to address the specific issue of buildings affected by the presence of pyrite, could be expanded and begin dealing with Celtic Tiger-era defects on a non-statutory basis and make emergency allocations available now, as well as receiving applications for the wider scheme in parallel with the drafting of legislation.

The scheme will cover works in purpose-built apartments constructed between 1991 and 2013 which will address defects attributable to defective design or materials, or faulty workmanship contrary to building regulations.

Odette Doran, who owns a defective apartment in Dublin, said there was a “lack of urgency” on short-term funding which meant those living in the apartments had to tolerate ongoing risks. “Until the emergency funding is up and running no one is safe until everyone is safe,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Mr O’Brien said that during a webinar with affected homeowners in September, he had outlined that the legislation is being worked on as a “matter of priority” and that the Government is “entirely focused on establishing a scheme that is fit for purpose and works for the people impacted”,

However, he said that given the scale of the Bill, sufficient time is required to draft the legislation. “The Minister also explained that an interim scheme addressing essential fire safety works is currently being finalised, that the Housing Agency had appointed a programme manager to coordinate the scheme and that it would be open shortly”.

The Government has said it will take years to address defects in areas such as fire safety and water ingress which are widespread across apartment buildings constructed during the Celtic Tiger.

The emergence of such defects has left many homeowners saddled with heavy bills to fund repairs, as well as living with overhanging safety concerns and facing difficulty selling homes that may have been purchased during the construction boom as investment properties or first homes.

Meanwhile, due to the corporate structures used to build the units during the Celtic Tiger, legal redress is a dim possibility for almost all those affected, with the builder ultimately responsible for construction not facing any direct liability.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

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