Dublin City Council responded to serious issues raised in last weeks Prime Time Investigates by saying some of the criticism they received is justified.
The RTÉ programme, titled Nightmare to Let, highlighted dangerously overcrowded accommodation in the private rental sector.
The six-month long investigation revealed that more than half of rental properties in almost every county are failing to meet national standards if and when they are inspected by local authorities.
Three properties were identified in Dublin, two have been shut down by Dublin Fire Brigade and the third is in the process of being closed.
DCC also said one of their officials failed to open emails which were tipping the council off about dangerous properties.
In a statement released yesterday afternoon DCC said:
“The Primetime Investigates Programme highlighted a small number of properties in Dublin City that were grossly overcrowded, with totally unacceptable living conditions that were clearly unsafe.
“Dublin City Council was aware of the properties highlighted before the programme aired and had already dealt with them.
“The worst example highlighted (Crumlin) in the programme was closed a few weeks ago by way of High Court Action taken by Dublin Fire Brigade, a second one was also closed following intervention by Dublin Fire Brigade and the others are now either fully compliant or in the process of same and are no longer overcrowded. The properties involved will be further monitored closely over the coming months.”
“In relation to criticism of Dublin City Council in the Primetime Investigates Programme, some of this was justified and any weakness/deficiencies identified on how complaints were dealt with will be rectified immediately.
“The producers of the Programme did seek our comments on some of the properties highlighted but we could not do this because of Data Protection rules and the risk of litigation so all we could do prior to the programme being aired was to send them a very general statement.
“In relation to criticism specifically on the Crumlin case, our Environmental Health Section did receive an e-mail from a researcher on the programme which contained a phone number that our staff could not connect with (it is normal practice to try and engage with the complainant). Two further emails were later sent directly to an individual official in the Environmental Health Section (rather than through the normal route of the DCC Customer Services Office) and unfortunately these were not opened. If they had been, then it would/should have been referred to Dublin Fire Brigade (Fire Prevention). We apologise for this mistake.
“Ultimately, a complaint on this particular case was sent by a Local City Councillor directly to the Chief Executive which resulted in immediate action and High Court Closure Order through Dublin Fire Brigade.”
In another complicated case (highlighted in the programme), where Dublin City Council had intervened, the tenant in situ was refusing to allow the landlord to carry out the necessary works (the landlord was fully prepared to do this work). Ultimately this situation was resolved but it does indicate the complexity of some of these private rented situations and the time and effort that goes into some individual cases.”