Local authority is to move from a ‘reactive’ maintenance programme to a planned one
Kilkenny County Council is to carry out a review of its local authority housing tenancy agreement, following a special housing meeting on Monday.
Senior staff from the council’s housing department have also said that there is an objective to begin a stock condition survey this year, as the local authority attempts to move from a ‘reactive’ maintenance programme to a planned one.
Monday’s meeting was called to discuss concerns arising from the recent issuing of a tenant handbook to local authority tenants, setting out their rights and responsibilities. While praising the maintenance programme in effect to date, several councillors again queried a number of these responsibilities.
They say some tenants have contacted them worried about being unable to afford certain repairs or maintenance. Other councillors expressed concern that tenants would attempt to carry out difficult electrical or plumbing works themselves, at the risk of doing further damage or causing themselves harm.
Cllr David Kennedy expressed concern over the loss of insurance compensation in the case of improperly carried out works.
Councillor Patrick McKee, who initially raised the issue, said that many of the houses in question are coming to an age where significant investment is needed in repairs.
“Our tenancy contracts must be amended to ensure the same rights are afforded to local authority tenants as exist in the private rented sector,” he said.
“Issues around electrical repairs, plumbing repairs— these are issues that should rest with the landlord, that being Kilkenny County Council, not the tenant.”
Director of services Mary Mulholland said the council was responding to issues that should be, strictly speaking, the tenant’s responsibility. There were over 5,600 maintenance-related calls last year.
She added there would always be consideration given to factors such as the condition of the house, and the circumstances of the tenant.
“Discretion, compassion and common sense have to be applied on a case-by-case basis,” she said.
Ms Mulholland also said the handbook had been issued as it may have been some time since some tenants had signed their original tenancy agreement. She said as well as the responsibililties, it had eight pages of guidance tips.
“It’s not about beating people over the head with their responsibilities — it’s reminding people that they are part of a two-way agreement,” she said.