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Fire Safety Defects in Apartments

  • 23-06-2022 9:46pm
    Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    Hi All,

    Looking for some information from anyone who has been affected by the Fire Safety Defects in Apartments built from 1991-2013.

    I'm a new owner and after only months in the apartment have been hit by the possibility of a levy of €15,000 due within 6-8wks and also been advised that the estate has been served a final notice by the fire brigade and that we may not be able to get block insurance without the fire cert and effectively need to vacate the building. I was not made aware during the purchase that the apartments were in this kind of state.

    I'm at a total loss, and wondering if anyone in a similar situation has actually had to leave their homes? This issue seems to be going on for years yet nothings been done and I can't seem to get an answer from my Solicitors, Management Company or by researching online if we could actually be forced to leave and where we stand if we do.

    I have looked online at the Construction Defects Alliance and the updates they have on the reports that are being given to the housing minister but looking like any outcome/resolution from that may not be until 2023 and from the notices and information we are getting it doesn't seem like we have that kind of time.

    Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated.




  • Registered Users Posts: 9,407 ✭✭✭ antoinolachtnai

    Your question is very technical and ultimately hypothetical. The fire officer is on your heels. In the end I think these works need to be done and you and your fellow residents will have to pay that levy.

    it does sound like you were sold a bill of goods (thought you were buying one thing but were actually buying another). This gives rise to other complex but less hypothetical questions. Are you entitled to compensation? And who will pay it?

    These are questions for your solicitor. Your solicitor may be at fault and if this is a possibility you may need other legal advice.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    Thanks appreciate your advice. Will keep on at the solicitors!

  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 35,115 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Seth Brundle

    Did you have an engineer check the property before purchase?

    Was your solicitor made aware that the management company were served notice (and follow ups) by the fire brigade ot yhat the management company were getting quotes for remedial works? Did your solicitor contact the management company at all (would this be normal when buying an apartment?)

    Did your mortgage provider seek assurances that there was nothing hanging over the property such as this?

  • Registered Users Posts: 267 ✭✭ DFB-D

    Interesting, I viewed a few apartments without a current fire cert, there was still residents in place. But I was always informed there was no current fire cert.

    But then there was Priory Hall which was vacated.

    An issue like this needs to be disclosed in the financial statements as a provision or a note if the amount is not known / not probable to occur.

    I would review the accounts if the notice was received last year before the accounts were published. Most CLGs still get an audit so generally auditors pick up on issues like this (assuming they were provided with the information they requested).

    I don't think (I'm not a solicitor though) that you will have much of a claim against anyone, your engineer should have checked for fire compliance, but I'm not sure if there is liability if they miss something that was evident. Your solicitor does legal checks rather than defect checks, so not their issue?

    I wonder do the fire brigade publish such information? It sounds like something which should be published in the public interest!

  • Registered Users Posts: 298 ✭✭ ElBastardo1

    Ok, so first port of call with you is with your solicitor to find out did they get the Apartment complex current state of affairs which is known as the MUD's act. This would give the state of the apartments and were they aware of Fire issues at the time or where inspections planned. These things normally take months of planning so it wouldn't be just an 'out of the blue' event. Your engineer/ surveyor will check the visual elements of the property, but they wouldn't be requesting Fire certs, again the property management company will have provided this to your solicitor. Also, your engineer more than likely wouldn't pick up on any fire issues as opening up works would normally have to take place for inspection.

    on a side note:A major property management company did an inspection of all it's properties and found 90% of the apartments in Ireland have Fire issues, so they can't evict all of these, it's only happened a handful of times, but the DFB will want issues fixed in a timely manner.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    Yes I had all the checks before hand and I'm trying to confirm with the solicitors if they were advised of the fire safety defects but I haven't been able to get a direct answer from them. Have been searching the documents myself to see if there's anything, mortgage provided also made no request or assurances about this kind of issue. I just find it so surprising, as the more I'm looking into it the more Im realising how big of an issue it is and how many properties are affected!

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    We do have a fire cert now, its just the worry that we wont for long as the DFB have issued warnings! and without that there can't be insurance and I'm not sure you can have residents in a building without insurance, I just looked up Priory hall there and that would deffo be a huge worry, that ultimately we would have to leave our homes. In the long run I understand the works need to be done and I'm not even looking to pin it on anyone like solicitors or anything, as fuming as I was when I first found out. Like what you say for public interest surely there should be an awareness of something something like this. I don't get how its been going on for such a long time, and now all of a sudden a new owner is expected to pull €15,000 out of nowhere :(

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    Great thanks, I am trying to get an answer from my solicitors if we were given the information about how bad things were and have been going through all of the documents again to see if it was missed/not sent at all.

    In all fairness, I get that risks like this is part and parcel if something like this is not caught before purchase, but I was more so concerned by the thoughts of being evicted/apartments left vacant and no work done to rectify the issues. So I was hoping to see if anyone might be going through/gone through similar and if it ended with them losing their properties. I didn't realise the affected properties were as high as 90% so fingers crossed considering the scale of the issues and the amount of properties affected, we get a chance to fix the problem before the buildings are served any kind of eviction notices. Thanks!

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,301 ✭✭✭ kirk.

    They won't be forthcoming if they should have known

    At least not straightaway

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    That's what I'm worried about, I doubt they'll be admitting they missed anything like that. 🙄

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  • Registered Users Posts: 298 ✭✭ ElBastardo1

    Simply ask your solicitor for the document they received as part of the MUDs act. It should be very easy to read as it's staright forward. If it hasn't been noted in the report your solicitor wouldn't have known. The bank would also ask your solicitor to qualify the title, if it was in the MUDs document your bank would have been informed and therefore your bank might not have agreed to lend on the property. If the property has a management company it could be considered fraud not to have providing the most accurate information. The only alarm bell I can see is that they have a figure of 15k already for owners to pay. That would indicate a lot of work has gone into costing. This wouldn't be done overnight.

    A huge amount of apartments have issues and with the current lack of accommodation DFB won't be throwing out residents on the street.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    Brill, thanks for that direction. I will request the MUD documents and go from there.

    I'm really hoping that would be the case and that surely they couldn't have 100s of people, including families and pensioners out on the street. You would hope anyways!😥

  • Registered Users Posts: 286 ✭✭ Citygirl1

    Hi. The advice you're getting from ElBastardo1 is spot on.

    When purchasing any property in a managed development, which is subject to the MUD Act (this includes all apartment blocks), your solicitor will have, or should have sought and obtained responses to a list of "MUD Act pre-contract enquiries". This is a list of standard queries, which is completed by the Managing Agent (as paid for by the seller). The responses would include disclosing the existence of this major upcoming work and costs.

    If the Managing Agent failed to disclose this, it would be negligence on their part. If this was disclosed, and your solicitor failed to query it further and/or advise you and your mortgage provider, that is their fault. The bank would expect them to qualify the title in this case. I would keep pushing your solicitor to understand the position and try to get sight of this document. Though, from experience, solicitors can be extremely difficult to deal with in such instances.

    I'm aware of this, as being in the unfortunate position of being an owner in a development where a fire audit was done a few years ago, with substantial works identified. At this stage, most of the works are done. I have been looking to sell for the last three years, and this issue has made it extremely difficult. Though some properties have been sold in that time, all to investors, who do not need a mortgage.

    Regarding the costing of €15k, that seems on the high end. It would be worth getting together with other owners and the managing agent to understand the basis for these numbers, and who (if anyone) is contracted to do the work. In my place, while there was a lot to be done, one of our directors has been overseeing this carefully, and costs to date averaged around €2,500 per property.

  • Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭ AnnieinDundrum

    I looked at an apartment recently, seemed like a great price, the EA mentioned that they were interested in cash buyers only. So I contacted the management company... there's massive work needed to bring it up to the required standard. No idea what's needed or when it'll be done.

    I walked away. It was probably worth the punt as the price was excellent for the size and location. But writing a blank cheque scared me!

  • Registered Users Posts: 298 ✭✭ ElBastardo1

    The main issue is though the works need to be carried out. It relies on all owners to pay the levy though. The works cannot be finished until everyone pays up. You will have maybe 20-30% of the owners who can't or won't pay for the works, so everyone is screwed. People who don't pay can't sell their apartments on either as all bills owed have to be settled before banks will lend on it. The people who do pay can't sell on until the banks deem the development as up to standards. It's a mess. It's only when the threat of eviction is on the cards will people take it seriously. You may actually want DFB to be on your case in the long run to persuade owners to cough up or even engage.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    Great thanks so much for this! Yes I checked the MUD documents where Elbastardo1 suggested and there was mention that there was a fire safety audit but nothing about it being part of this much larger problem or that it was likely that it would incur a massive cost. My solicitors didnt pick up on it it seems or its possible considering it was just mentioned as an audit it wouldn't stand out as such a major issue as a fire safety check would be standard to maintain your fire cert for insurance so Im really not sure where I stand with that but I will be pushing back with the solicitors on that. I have managed to get involved with more residents over the weekend and there are other new buyers now in a similar situation as me having not been advised fully of the extent of the issues. So all a bit concerning.

    Thanks for your information on how much it cost in your own complex and the charges they are coming out with do sound insane so at least I can ask is a second opinion/quote possible at this point because 15,000 is just not possible to scrap together in 8weeks!!

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    I agree completely, we need to at least try to get some engagement in getting money together for it. As the last thing I want is the exact thing you describe, paying and not getting the work done anyways because so many residents wont pay so we're all stuck in limbo.

    We've gotten a local TD involved now and the residents are trying to get solicitors involved to see where we stand in terms of information being withheld from people so its a much bigger thing than I ever thought in the first place.

    Thanks for all your advice, I've at least been able to make sense of the information I was sent by the solicitors and know better where i stand in the whole thing!!

  • Registered Users Posts: 298 ✭✭ ElBastardo1

    I really think your solicitor should have picked up on this though. Everyone and their granny are aware of the major Fire issues in apartments all over the country and the cost. The fact you bought during an Audit without your solicitor making you aware of the exposure is alarming. I would have expected the bank to be informed of the Exposure as they are more aware than anyone on Fire issues. Just google it and see the amount of developments with issues and some of the costings. If the Solicitor had even enquired to the management company about the extent of the Audit they may have been informed of the potential exposure to you, their client. You may have no recourse with them, but your solicitor let you down the fact you weren't informed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    I think you had a lucky escape with that one! Its terrible now the more Im finding out about it the more Im realizing what a serious issue it is!!

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 LED2412

    Yeah I'm definitely not sure where I stand for any kind of recourse, the more I'm looking through the details the more it looks like the information surrounding the seriousness of the issue was not provided, as a new buyer that bought in here about 3 months before me was given a full report on all the issues. I can see now after looking up online that its a major issue but can honestly say I was not aware while in the buying process. I will try push back to the solicitors again and see if there is any course of action. Thanks!

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