In January 2023, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien T.D announced plans to draft legislation to support the remediation of apartments and duplexes with fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects, constructed between 1991 and 2013. The proposed legislation will provide a statutory basis for the establishment of an Apartment and Duplex Defects Remediation Scheme aimed at protecting the safety and welfare of those living in apartments or duplexes with such defects. The scope, eligibility criteria and conditions of the Remediation Scheme will ultimately depend on the legislation that is passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas and signed into law by the President.
Given the overall potential scale and estimated cost associated with rectifying these issues, it is likely that it will take many years to remediate all affected buildings. Resources and works, therefore, will need to be prioritised. Acknowledging this and considering that interim measures might be necessary in certain instances to ensure an acceptable standard of fire safety in buildings before the comprehensive completion of remedial works, the Government is currently introducing an Interim Remediation Scheme on an administrative basis.
2. Scope of the Interim Remediation Scheme
2.1 Eligible Properties
Apartments and duplexes built between 1991 and 2013 will qualify for the scheme. The scheme will provide for the funding of emergency fire safety defect works in order to provide an acceptable level of fire safety in buildings, pending completion of the full remedial works.
Full remedial works, which will include all necessary fire safety measures as well as those related to water ingress and structural damage, will be funded under the statutory scheme that will be legislated for in 2024.
The scheme applies only if the defects were caused by defective design, workmanship or materials that breached the Building Regulations that applied when the property was built.
The scheme will not cover defects that came about because:
- The building was not adequately maintained.
- Sinking funds did not plan funding to replace building and safety systems when they expired.
- Later building work was not managed correctly and this led to defects.
2.2 Eligible Works
In general, the purpose of interim measures will be to provide an acceptable level of fire safety in the building, pending completion of the full remedial works. Interim measures may include the following non-exhaustive items:
- An enhanced fire detection and alarm system, either, by expanding existing central systems, and/or providing self-contained battery-operated smoke or heat alarms.
- Provision of fire wardens, in extreme cases.
- Management of fire safety, for example:
- Ensure escape routes are safe, clear, readily available for use and provided with adequate emergency lighting.
- Ensure that emergency fire procedures for the building are in place and engage with residents to ensure that they are fully aware of fire safety measures and evacuation procedures.
- Notices to explain the fire safety measures and evacuation procedures (in different languages as appropriate)
- The frequency of drills/inspections to test fire safety measures and evacuation procedures and recording same in a fire safety register.
- Undertake regular checks to ensure that:
- Doors close properly to prevent spread of fire and smoke.
- Escape routes are clear and free from trip hazards.
- There is no storage of articles in escape routes.
- To prevent storage of combustible materials (such as refuse) in the vicinity of the building, at ground level or on balconies – for example, by using barriers, and/or by issuing instructions to occupants, and engaging with owners/occupiers of any commercial units within the building to minimize the risks between different building occupants.
- Engagement with owners/occupiers of any commercial units within the building to minimize the risks of divergence in approaches to fire safety between different building occupants.
- Check that all entrance doors to individual apartments, and doors that open onto escape corridors and stairways, are fire resisting and effectively self-closing against any latch resistance.
- Obtain, and where necessary update, current certification for existing fire safety systems.
- Ensure that gas and electrical installations are checked by a Competent Professional (CP) for compliance with current standards.
- Closure of part(s) of the premises identified in the risk assessment as presenting a serious hazard.
- Install temporary fire resisting construction.
- Provide fixed extinguishing equipment.
- Checking that all facilities provided for the fire service, including fire-fighting lifts and dry or wet rising mains are in proper working order and certified.
- Other relevant, specific proposals.
It is intended that, in principle, full funding will be provided for all eligible works necessary to achieve an acceptable level of fire safety in the building, pending completion of the full remedial works. To ensure value for money and good governance regarding Exchequer funding, appropriate terms and conditions will apply to such funding. These details will be outlined in the Grant Agreement in the Applicant Pack issued to applicants following the submission of a valid application.
4. Who may apply?
A whole building approach will be taken to remediate relevant defects and to improve the safety of all occupants in the building. This means that all parts of the building (e.g., the common areas, the individual apartments etc.) must be considered together when addressing defects.
Given their current legal obligations and ownership of common areas, it is proposed that Owners’ Management Companies (OMCs) will receive funding to carry out the necessary remediation works. Thus, only applications from authorised representatives of OMCs will be considered. Funding will not, under any circumstances, be directly allocated to any individual homeowner through this Interim Remediation Scheme.
5. What to expect after submitting.
On receiving a valid application for eligible immediate fire safety works, within seven to ten working days the Housing Agency will assign a case number to the applicant. Simultaneously, applicants can anticipate receiving comprehensive information in the Applicant Pack by email. This Applicant Pack will contain further details outlining the subsequent stages of the process.
6. How to apply.
Applicants should complete in full the Interim Remediation Scheme Application Form which can be accessed at the following link:
Remember it is essential that applications are completed in full.
The previous Expression of Interest (EOI) Portal for Defective Apartments and Duplexes (1991-2013) was created as an information-gathering platform for OMCs to express potential interest in future remediation schemes. This portal, governed by specific conditions of use, is not a formal registration mechanism for the interim or full remediation schemes.
7. Further information and contacts.
The administration of the Interim Remediation Scheme is being managed by The Housing Agency on behalf of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Complete contact information is provided below.
An Ghníomhaireacht Tithíochta
53 Sráid an Mhóta Uachtarach
Baile Átha Cliath
The Housing Agency
53 Mount Street Upper
Tel: +353 1 656 4100
Interim Remediation Scheme Email: Interim.email@example.com
8. Useful Links and Other Publications.
Frequently Asked Questions: Proposed Approach to Support Remediation of Defects in Apartments and Duplexes published by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Code of Practice for the Remediation of Fire Safety Defects: Guidance for Owners’ Management Companies: Building Professionals and Local Authority Staff in the context of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003 (July 2023) published by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Fire Safety Guide for Building Owners and Operators: Guide for persons having control under Section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003 (August 2023) published by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Defects in Apartments: Report of the Working Group to Examine Defects in Housing (July 2022) published by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Code of Practice for Fire Safety Assessment of Premises and Buildings (March 2022) published by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Recordings of training webinars for stakeholders in MUDs and OMCs are available on The Housing Agency’s YouTube Channel.
The topics addressed are:
- The Multi-Unit Developments Act
- Service Charges & Debt Collection
- MUD Financial Management & OMC Accounts
- Company Law for OMCs
- Role of the Management Agent and the PSRA
- Sinking Funds
Owners’ Management Companies – A Concise Guide for Directors (May 2021) published by The Housing Agency and Chartered Accountants Ireland.
Engaging a Property Management Agent: Guidance for Owners' Management Companies (January 2021) published by The Housing Agency.
Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings where concerns arise (August 2017) published by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
9. List of Abbreviations
CP: Competent Professional
FSRA: Fire Safety Risk Assessment
LAFS: Local Authority Fire Services
OMC: Owners’ Management Companies