Laois TD and housing agency in row over state of Mountrath houses

Laois TD and housing body in dispute over houses for council tenants

ByConor Ganly news@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

A Laois TD has taken a housing body to task over its intentions for unfinished homes in Mountrath, but the agency insists that they will be available for Laois County Council tenants this year.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley demanded action on Cluainín Estate, Mountrath which he said had been left vacant.

“Three years after the Oaklee Housing Association bought the houses, which were to house some of those on the Council’s waiting list, not one bit of work has been done to prepare them for occupancy,” he said.

Deputy Stanley said it is two years since approval was given to use them for social housing with Laois County Council’s nominating tenants and paying an annual rental subvention to Oaklee.

“There is a growing waiting list for housing in Mountrath, with over 100 households in need of housing in the area, yet these fine three bedroomed semi-detached houses lie vacant,” he said.

The TD, who raised the issue in the Dáil, claimed a modest amount of work is needed to have them ready for occupancy.

“While there has been a small amount of damage caused by vandalism, this should in no way prevent their speedy completion,” he said.

In a statement to the Leinster Express, Oaklee reject the TD's claims. It said it purchased the 11 properties located in Cluainín Estate, Mountrath in November 2015, as part of a receiver sale.

“Following the purchase of the units, an architect was appointed to oversee the completion, and detailed inspections revealed a number of critical issues with the 'as constructed' timber frame units.

“The delay in allocating these properties is unfortunate, however, Oaklee must ensure tenant safety and compliance with the building control legislation. Laois County Council has been kept informed of the issues with this development throughout 2016 and we anticipate work on the units will be completed in June 2017 when we look forward to welcoming new tenants,” said Oaklee.

Oaklee said it has delivered 200 units in the last 18 months in Ireland as part of addressing critical housing need.

Deputy Stanley said the response was belated.

“Oaklee Housing is a registered charity and they have carried out no work to complete these houses either prior to this date or at any time since.

“In fact the only work they have done is to erect a security fence across the roadway in the estate and the car parking area. This has prevented the public areas of the estate being completed and taken in charge by the Council as there are road markings and parking bays still to be marked.

“Oaklee has dragged their heels with these social houses while the housing situation in Mountrath continues to become more critical,” he said.

He said what has happened in Cluainín raises serious questions over Government policy of ‘farming out’ the responsibility for providing social housing to Housing Associations.

He said it was 'bad policy' that councils have been 'side lined' and their only role is to nominate tenants.

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