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Robust consumer protection legislation urgently needed for homeowners – Ó Broin

24 January, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin has called for robust consumer protection legislation to be urgently introduced for homeowners. Deputy Ó Broin made the comments after it emerged that apartment owners at Beacon South Quarter in Sandyford, Dublin, may have to pay more than €10m to repair structural and fire safety defects in their apartments. 

Speaking this afternoon, the Dublin Mid-West TD stated:

“Unfortunately, this morning, we are seeing another case of apartment owners facing huge costs to remedy what was sub-standard building during the Celtic tiger boom. Reports of defective and unsafe apartments in Sandyford are by no means unique, with many homeowners across the state struggling to deal with a legacy of bad building. 

“Government needs to do more to protect homeowners, especially in cases like these where defects in buildings aren’t uncovered until years later. Homebuyers are not in a position to assess the quality of building services when buying new houses and apartments. Surveys conducted once the homes are built are in many cases inadequate as they do not find problems that have been covered up, for example fire safety issues in apartment blocks. 

“As it stands, the protections offered by the current system of self-regulation are wholly inadequate. The remit of the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) is limited in terms of what it can offer consumers namely a register, a mediation service, and a complaints service.  

“According to the Government’s legislative programme for Spring/Summer 2017, a new Building Control Bill is scheduled for pre- legislative scrutiny this term. This Bill provides an opportunity to strengthen building inspection and compliance with regulations. It also provides an opportunity for a new system of consumer protection for homebuyers that should be applied retrospectively to ensure that residents of developments like Beacon should not have to foot the bill for the mistakes of planners, developers and builders.

“The Government must give a commitment that consumer protection will be placed at the heart of this legislation.  A statutory register is of little value if not accompanied by consumer protection with teeth and a robust compliance regime that ensures that mistakes of the boom era are never repeated.” 

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