Dublin City Council

 

Question to City Manager               City Council Meeting 01/11/2010

 

Q58. COUNCILLOR CIERAN PERRY
Can the Manager provide a list of rented DCC Area Offices and the cost of each?

CITY MANAGER’S REPLY:
South East Area:
The rental cost for the Ringsend and Pembroke Area Office, Portview House, Thorncastle St., Ringsend is €65136 p.a. plus VAT. Service Charges cost €16,420. The Waste to Energy Project pay 50% of these costs.

Contact:          Sheila Dunne, Administrative Officer – 222 7393     

South Central Area Offices:
           
            Crumlin / Kimmage Electoral Area
            The Crumlin Area Office is owned by the City Council - there are no rental charges.

            Contact:          Brian Lyons, Senior Staff Officer - 222 5508

            South West Inner City Electoral Area
There are two Area Offices, the Liberties Area Office and the Kilmainham / Inchicore Area Office in the South West Inner City.  The rental costs for this accommodation amount to €200,000 per year. 

            Contact:          Catherina Benson, Administrative Officer - 222 5185.

Ballyfermot / Drimnagh Electoral Area
            The premises in which the Ballyfermot Area Office is located is owned by the City Council.  The question of rent does therefore not arise.

Contact:          Sean Moloney, Assistant Area Manager – 620 7126

North Central Office:
The North Central Area area office leases office space in the Northside Civic Centre, Darndale Village Centre and Greendale Shopping Centre at a cost of €191,247 in rent and service charges.

Contact:          Céline Reilly, Area Manager – 8166710

Central & North West Area
The Central Area & North West Areas have offices at:
97/97A Cabra Road, Dublin 7
51/55 Seán McDermott Street, Dublin 1
182-184 Parnell Street, Dublin 1
and
The Finglas Civic Centre, Mellowes Road, Finglas, Dublin 11
total rental costs €47,500 p.a.

Q59.    COUNCILLOR CIERAN PERRY
To ask the Manager that the Dublin City Council Housing Department provide all Councillors with a weekly lettings list for allocations and transfers. Can the Manager provide a similar weekly listing from the Voluntary Housing agencies?

CITY MANAGER’S REPLY:
The City Council already circulates to all City Councillors a listing of allocations and transfers into all City Council housing on a weekly basis.  It would not be possible to provide a listing of all allocations made in Voluntary Sector housing as the City Council do not own these properties.

The Housing Allocations Section in the City Council nominates suitable housing applicants to Housing Associations in the Voluntary Sector as new developments arise.  The Head Office Allocations Section co-ordinate the selection process with the Voluntary Housing Body concerned.  In larger developments the Area Office is also involved in the selection process of suitable candidates who are seeking accommodation in their area and in which the development is being built. 

Individual Voluntary Housing Associations also contact the Allocations Section / Area Office as casual vacancies arise in their properties for suitable candidates to be nominated for consideration.

Usually, when a new development is nearing completion, the Allocations Section maintains a record of all applicants who have declared an interest in being considered, whether they make contact directly, through representations of elected representatives, on nomination from the Area Office or on nomination from Housing Advisory Staff.  I would add that applicants who may not be aware of the development are also considered and are selected on the basis of their need as defined under the Scheme of Letting Priorities.  Also many applicants who have declared an interest in Voluntary Housing in general but who may not be aware of the specific development are also considered.

The Scheme of Letting Priorities is used to determine eligibility for housing and to prioritise applicants based on their housing need in City Council housing stock. There are no specific protocols or Scheme of Letting Priorities used when determining the most suitable applicants for nomination to the Voluntary Sector. However, there are criteria laid down prior to any nomination process beginning. It must also be understood that some of the Voluntary Housing Associations are involved in housing applicants from a specific category of applicant.  Therefore, the criteria for the selection of applicants has, in some instances, been predetermined, for example, there are number of Associations that deal exclusively with homeless applicants, applicants with mental health issues or applicants with disabilities.  In general, before any nomination process commences, the Allocations Section will meet with the Housing Association concerned and agree the criteria.

The criteria for selecting suitable applicants generally depends on the layout, size and design of the development, for example, in new apartment complexes, if there are very limited play areas or open spaces, it may be decided that it would be inappropriate to nominate families with small children and more suitable to nominate non-expanding families or parents with teenage children.

In some developments, the rental in the Voluntary Sector may be more expensive than the City Council rent or there may be other factors to consider such as the affordability issue or any Property Management Co. fees.  As the Housing Associations rely on their rental to assist in the management of their accommodation, it may be decided that only applicants that have sufficient income will be considered.  In developments where there is some income differential rent in place, it is also generally accepted that mixed nominations are made, i.e. social welfare applicants and working applicants.  This also assists in creating a good social mix in developments and helps in building strong communities.

It is also the City Council’s responsibility, when making nominations to the Voluntary Bodies, to carry out estate management checks and rent payment records in the case of City Council tenants.  Most of the Voluntary Bodies seek more nominations than there are units of accommodation available.  The Voluntary Body then selects suitable candidates that they wish to make offers to after an interview process.  In some instances, the Voluntary Body insist that the nominees attend compulsory tenant training or induction courses before they make the offers and non-participation by applicants results in offers being withdrawn.

When making nominations, the applicant’s current status on the waiting list is checked.  The City Council may decide not to nominate cases that have a high position on the waiting list who are likely to be reached for an offer of accommodation from the Council.  This allows the nomination of applicants who have a need for housing (but who will not be reached for any offer of accommodation for quite some time) to be put forward.  Dublin City Council has many long-standing working relationships with all the other housing providers in the Voluntary Sector.  The City Council has always endeavoured to nominate people that are likely to be suitable tenants, prompt rent payers and applicants that are unlikely to cause anti social behaviour.  This has ensured that the level of co-operation and trust that has been built up over many years between the City Council and the Voluntary Sector has steadily grown and will continue to grow as the Voluntary Sector become more involved in Social Housing in the City.

It should also be noted that, when allocating accommodation in the Voluntary Sector, the Voluntary Body themselves have rights in relation to whom they decide to allocate units.  The split is usually 75% nominations from the Local Authority and 25% from the Voluntary Body.  In practice, nearly all successful applicants for such accommodation have been accepted on the City Council waiting list.  In some instances, the Voluntary Sector may only seek the same number of nominations as units available; however, it is usually the case that a higher number of applicants are nominated than units available.  The successful

applicants are selected by interview process to ensure suitability of prospective tenants and to ensure that the terms and conditions required by the Housing Body are also suitable to the prospective tenant.

In summary, the criteria used to allocate accommodation in the Voluntary Sector is in some instances set out prior to any nomination process beginning.  In other instances, the criteria are agreed between the City Council and the individual Voluntary Body.  It must be remembered that once these applicants are housed, they become tenants of the individual Housing Association concerned and are subject to their tenancy agreements and conditions.  The Housing Development Section liaises with each Voluntary Body regarding approval for Central Government funding.  Before funding can be drawn down, the Allocations Section are asked to confirm that the allocations process has been agreed and that the Voluntary Organisation have made their lettings to applicants eligible for social housing and as required under the terms of the criteria of the funding approval.

Due to the high demand for housing, the numbers of people interested in being considered for voluntary Sector housing has increased significantly, particularly as a result of the high quality of housing provided and other services on offer from these Housing Bodies.  The Council’s main role is to co-operate with each of these Bodies and use the knowledge and experience of our Housing Officials to ensure stable communities are sustained.

 

Q60. COUNCILLOR CIERAN PERRY
Can the Manager provide a report on the current status of the planning permission for the new Cystic Fibrosis unit in St. Vincent’s Hospital.

CITY MANAGER’S REPLY:
Planning permission was originally granted for the unit under Ref. 3117/07 on 16th January 2008.  This was subsequently modified and permission was granted under Ref. 3458/09 on 1st September 2009.

 

Q61.    COUNCILLOR CIERAN PERRY
Can the Manager provide a report of the number of errant landlords contacted by DCC in Dublin Central in the last year and the nature of the complaints?

CITY MANAGER’S REPLY:
In the first nine months of 2010, the environmental health section received thirty eight complaints from tenants living in private rented houses in the Central Area.  In each case the house was inspected and the appropriate enforcement action initiated.  All houses will be inspected to ensure any required remedial works have been completed.
           
In general complaints related to general standards, fire safety and ventilation.

This year, a total 279 houses have been inspected under the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations in the Central Area.  In addition 242 inspections were undertaken to ensure that required remedial works were completed following the service of previous enforcement action.

To date 13 legal actions have been initiated in the Central Area