The Irish Government has announced plans to draft legislation to support the remediation of apartments and duplexes with fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects. Any other types of defect i.e. drainage defects or defects with heating systems would appear to be excluded. The plans are to include apartments and duplexes which were constructed between 1991 and 2013. We therefore assume that apartments and duplexes constructed outside this time frame are not covered by the scheme and any issues will have to be dealt with in the normal way.

The scheme is set to go to Cabinet but nothing has been published as of yet and ultimately the devil will be in the detail. However the Government has published a “frequently asked questions” document to provide an idea of how such a remediation scheme may operate.
The intention seems to be to create something similar to the scheme that was previously introduced in respect of properties impacted by pyrite.

What apartments and duplexes will be included?

From the information provided, the Government is intending to take a ‘whole building approach’ in order to improve the safety of all occupants in the building. Therefore, all parts of the building (e.g. the common areas, the individual apartments etc.) will be considered together when addressing defects.

The Government is proposing the scheme will be administered by the Housing Agency on a nationwide basis and that Owners’ Management Companies (OMCs) will be funded to carry out the necessary remediation works on a “whole building” basis and therefore will be responsible for procuring and facilitating the remediation works that affect the common areas of apartments and duplexes as well as the individual apartments.

It appears that commercial owners will be exempt from such a scheme.

What works will be covered by the scheme?

As stated above, the scheme will only cover works to remediate fire safety, structural safety or water ingress defects in purpose-built apartments and duplexes constructed between 1991 and 2013. The defects which are covered by the scheme must relate to defective design, defective or faulty workmanship or defective materials. The defects must have resulted from a contravention of the Building Regulations applicable at the time the building was constructed. All other defects are excluded from the scheme.

Irrespective of this scheme and in accordance with the Fire Services Act, responsibility for fire safety continues to rest with those who control a premises.

When will the legislation be in place?

Subject to the implementation of the legislation, it is intended that the scheme would be in place by 2024.

The Government has also approved the principle of allowing remediation costs already incurred or levied to be covered, within the scope and defined parameters of the scheme.

Notably, and in order to ensure that no life-safety works are paused until the scheme is put in place, remediation works related to fire safety defects which are entered into or commenced from 18 January 2023, will come within the scope of the scheme. It is intended that such works will need to be agreed with the relevant local fire authority. The details of this process will be worked out as a priority and provided in due course.

How much funding will be made available?

The amount of funding will depend on the nature and extent of defects to be remediated. It is estimated that the scheme is worth between €1.5 billion and €2.5 billion.

For further information on this topic, please contact Conor Owens, Partner, Kathy Gilmore, Solicitor, or any member of A&L Goodbody’s Construction and Engineering team.