28 May 2022

Cowen introduces new bill to tackle house overcrowding

The Offaly TD has strong views on the issue

Cowen introduces new bill to tackle house overcrowding

Barry Cowen

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government and Offaly TD, Barry Cowen, has today introduced a new Bill in the Dáil to tackle overcrowded housing.

The Bill sets out a new statutory definition of overcrowded housing and strengthens penalties against landlords who breach them. It draws from current legislation in the UK and Canada and replaces "the outdated definition which was introduced in 1966."

"Some 3,544 people have cited overcrowding as their primary reason for applying for social housing according to latest needs assessment information published last week," Barry explained.

Deputy Cowen said, “The current law as it stands is out of date and out of touch with the reality of life in Ireland today. The law needs to be modernised and strengthened to make it fit for purpose, particularly given the fact that overcrowding is a growing problem in the rental market in particular."

“The aim of Fianna Fáil’s Bill is to provide clarity to ensure landlords cannot exploit the current rental crisis to impose unsafe and substandard living conditions. Even today sub-standard accommodation is still being advertised across Dublin despite assurances from Government that it would deal with the issue. This is simply unacceptable and it’s clear new measures are needed to address the problem."

“Our Bill sets the basic minimum space requirements for tenants. While fire safety legislation can be used to tackle issues such as overcrowding, it does not cover all units nor does it encompass quality of life standards. We have seen instances of gross overcrowding on national television which clearly shows that the issue needs to be tackled."

“The Bill draws from UK and Canadian provisions to establish a new standard. It also sets out stronger penalties for breaches of these standards. We undoubtedly need to increase the supply of new homes to deal with the housing crisis, but this does not mean we should just ignore the growing problem of overcrowded and unsafe properties. We cannot allow standards to fall and allow unscrupulous individuals to exploit the current housing crisis."

“I look forward to working with the Government and TD’s across the Dáil to get this legislation passed," Cowen concluded.

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