Virtual viewings of private rental properties by Dublin City Council are a “let down to tenants,” says Ballymun councillor Noeleen Reilly.
The local authority says virtual viewings of properties to determine if they are up to regulation standard can take place if the landlord meets certain requirements.
However, Reilly says that the current landlord-driven market means that some tenants are forced to live in unsuitable and dangerous conditions.
She says that virtual viewings are not sufficient enough to determine if a property is safe for habitation.
“I thought I was reading this wrong when I first seen it advertised that Dublin City Council are now operating virtual inspections on private rented property,” Reilly says.
“There is a huge issue with the living conditions many people find themselves in while renting and because of the housing crisis many tenants are afraid to even complain.
“It is a landlord’s market and people often with young children are faced with cold damp properties with many landlords refusing to improve the conditions particularly the absentee landlord in the vulture funds.”
Reilly says that the “small glimmer of hope for some tenants is that there property might be inspected by Dublin City Council’s environmental department.
“Now we have a situation where virtual inspections are being introduced – I’m assuming as a means to reduce backlog.”
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council says that the local authority “operates both a physical inspection system and also a virtual inspection system.
“At present Dublin City Council there are two types of virtual inspection offered – an online form that a landlord or agent can complete and return or a live streaming inspection with a tenant.
“With the online form, there are three important elements to be met before this can be counted as an inspection – the completed form is returned, the requested photographs are returned and the tenant is engaged with and given an opportunity to bring any concerns to the council’s attention.
“If any of these elements is not available, a physical inspection takes place.
“If the tenant raises concerns about the condition of the property, a physical inspection may be scheduled,” the council says.
Dublin City Council says that live streaming inspections are made directly with the tenant and if “any concerns at scheduling stage, a physical inspection is scheduled instead.
“With this type of inspection the tenant uses their mobile device to show us around their home and point out any areas of concern to them and show areas of particular interest to the Environmental Health Officer.”
DCC that to ensure the system works, 11 percent of properties “deemed compliant on virtual inspection between Q2 2020 and end Q4 2021 have been carried out by Environmental Health Officers.
“Of these, 72 percent of properties were found to match the information provided on virtual inspection.
“Further enforcement action is taken in cases of properties found not to have provided accurate information on virtual inspection.”
However, Reilly says that no virtual inspections should take place.
“This simply is not good enough and is in no way adequate. It is a shortcut to thick a box,” she says.
“How can any officer get a proper inspection of a property online.
“The condtions of private rented properties need to be adressed immediately but doing that online is not going to work.
“DCC need to ensure all properties are inspected physically at least once every two years and any issues arising followed up on.”