Council rents bring in €12m - but is enough being spent on housing maintenance?

Council rents bring in €12m - but is enough being spent on housing maintenance?

Donegal Co. Council headquarters in Lifford

Donegal County Council needs to spend more money on the maintenance of its housing stock.

That was the suggestion made by Letterkenny councillor, Gerry McMonagle when he addressed the matter at the most recent Housing and Corporate Strategic Policy Committee meeting in Lifford.

Highlighting concerns about the lack of maintenance, he claimed the way in which money raised from local authority rents was spent could not continue.

Cllr McMonagle said that the council took in around €12 million every year in rents from all five municipal districts. Some €3.350,000 went to maintenance and over a million euro went to something called HQ maintenance which he said he would like to know more about.

"That brings us to a total maintenance of €4 million but that's not the reality. The true maintenance figure is €2,700,000 across the five districts. I think this SPC needs to be discussing how best we can protect our assets, our council houses as well as respect and acknowledge our tenants. The vast majority, 99% pay their rent, week in and week out, they look after their houses as best they can so when something goes wrong, the least we can do is sort it out as quickly as we can."

Earlier, he said in the Letterkenny-Milford Municipal District they received €995,000 in rents and out of that €313,000 went on payroll so that left €682,000.

"We have 1,500 houses in Letterkenny and unless we protect them and look after them they are going to cost us more. My experience with maintenance and requests to have it carried out is not great. People are having to wait longer than they should have to. We haven't got adequate personnel in the maintenance department to serve these houses," he claimed.

He also noted that while the council had maintenance staff, sometimes private companies were brought in to do work and at times residents did not know where they stood or who to turn to when work needed to be done.

Money raised from housing should go back into housing to protect our stock," he said.

Director of Housing, Corporate and Cultural Services, Joe Peoples said the housing section would be content to look at the maintenance issues, how it was being operated in practice, whether it was value for money, and the appropriateness of the timing of responding to repair requests.

"We have been helped significantly by the department over the past number of years on a number of fronts. We've got substantial money for casual vacancy repairs, we'll have retrofitted 4,000 houses by the middle of this year and we're waiting to move into phase two of retro fitting which  involves window and door replacement. We think we have 700-800 houses in that category and hope to be getting bids into the department on that this year to begin a programme of work there.

"We try to maximise what we can recover cost wise from the department in terms of repair and maintenance to do substantial upgrade works to our property," said Mr Peoples.

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