Mould and damp misery for dozens of social housing tenants waiting years for councils to respond

A TD who put out a Facebook call for council tenants with damp and mould issues to get in touch has been bombarded with messages from exasperated householders.

homas Gould had 130 replies in two days, many with photographs attached showing serious mould growth in living and sleeping areas.

Tenants told of their losing battles to keep the mould at bay, buying dehumidifiers and repeatedly wiping wet walls and windows dry while trying in vain to get their local council to take action.

Some of the replies came from people caring for family members with disabilities who were largely confined to the home and were constantly breathing in mould.

Mr Gould, a  Sinn Féin TD for Cork, said the accounts were similar to that of a family home he visited in recent days.

“Thirty-seven years they’re living in it. The council insulated the roofs and put in vents and for five years since they’ve had a leak in the roof and the bedrooms are covered in mould,” he said.

“This is a lovely house, a well-kept house. They wash it, they clean it, they paint it, but for five years it’s there. How can a council be allowed to have a maintenance issue roll on for five years?”

Mr Gould said he suspected some councils did not
have enough maintenance staff because cuts during the last recession were not reversed.

“And then they don’t have the finance to contract the work out so you’ve people living in substandard accommodation that wouldn’t be accepted in the private sector.”

Mr Gould expressed his concerns to representatives of the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC), the state body that keeps tabs on the performance of local authorities.

Attending the Oireachtas Housing Committee, NOAC chairman Michael McCarthy told TDs and senators that statistics were gathered on how much money each of the 31 local authorities spent on maintaining social housing each year.

Spending ranged from an average of €273 per dwelling in Longford to €2,441 per dwelling in Dublin city.

Mr McCarthy said costs tended to be higher the more urban the housing was.