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Clare Council house relet cost is third highest in country

Local authority spent three times as much as Tipperary County Council refurbishing housing stock

CLARE County Council’s average expenditure on reletting its own housing stock to new tenants is almost three times higher than Tipperary County Council, new figures have revealed.
The National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC), has produced statistics that show Clare County Council average relet is €28,713, which is the third highest in the country.
Tipperary County Council, which operates from an approved list of contractors, has an average re-let cost of €10,871. This then increases cost efficiency and reduces the time in reletting homes.
Clare’s average reletting time rose 24.37% from 35.37 weeks in 2019 to 43.99 weeks in 2020.
NOAC was advised by the Council that a few properties skew the data, as one property took more than two years to remove an illegal occupant.
The Council outlined they had two single rural dwellings to relet, which is always more expensive to refurbish due to issues such as the septic tank, treatment system and boundary. The local authority had started inspecting properties before the vacancy but this was not possible in lockdown.
The housing team visited Monaghan County Council to study good practice in this area; Clare County Council charges a €150 deposit, while Monaghan County Council charges €500.
Tipperary’s average reletting time rose 14.59% from 32.48 weeks in 2019 to 37.22 weeks in 2020. The local authority arranges contractors from an approved list that work off a shared framework.
NOAC was advised that while deposits are not currently considered in Tipperary, it was confirmed that when a property is returned in a bad standard and the tenant seeks to let again in the future, they are expected to pay off excess damage costs.
Waterford’s turnaround time for reoccupying local authority dwellings has been reduced to 45 days in 2021.
Their average reletting time rose 80.68% from 14.80 weeks in 2019 to 26.74 weeks in 2020.
The Council advised that they had a number of voids that were held as emergency accommodation, which totalled 19 properties.
These would have had a delay of up 12 weeks. It acknowledged that there will be an increase in time as suppliers will have difficulties in sourcing materials.
The Council aims to turn properties around within five weeks but face external issues. NOAC was advised that it may have to allocate a property to someone who may still need to give their notice to a private landlord.
Carlow’s average reletting time rose from 24.02 weeks in 2019 to 29.49 weeks in 2020, while Cork City’s average reletting time increased from 72.12 weeks in 2019 to 85.08 in 2020.
Acknowledging the situation concerning local authority dwellings is different in every county, Senator Timmy Dooley said reletting costs would be influenced by the standard of housing stock and what refurbishment has taken place in recent years.
However, Senator Dooley said it would appear that Clare County Council would benefit from a better understanding what the top performing local authorities are achieving in terms of incurring a much lower average expenditure on reletting.
While the Fianna Fáil senator appreciated that Council staff work extremely hard at turning over housing stock for new tenants, it appears lessons have to be learned from other authorities.
“I am sure senior officials in Clare County Council will engage with those counties with a view to achieving the levels of cost saving and a reduction in turnaround times.”
Clare County Council hadn’t responded to Clare Champion queries at the time of going to press.

by Dan Danaher

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