04 Jul 2022

Mica homeowners face ‘damage threshold’ to access new scheme

Homeowners' representatives have opposed an entry limit

Failure to reimburse Donegal mica homeowners

Properties will have to have pattern cracking of at least 1.5mm to enter the new scheme

Properties affected by defective blocks will have to meet a damage threshold for entry to the enhanced grant scheme.
The recommendation that properties must have extensive pattern cracking of at least 1.5mm has been made by the expert group set up to advise the Department of Housing on the new €2.2 billion scheme which was announced last November.
The expert group published its report on Friday and legislation for the enhanced scheme is due before the Dáil in the coming weeks.
There is no damage threshold within the regulations for entry to the current grant scheme. The government has decided that a damage threshold will be put in place for entry to the enhanced grant scheme.
Representatives of homeowners on the working group said a damage threshold should serve no other purpose than the prioritisation of the order of dwellings to be remediated.
They said that while they accept that a dwelling must be damaged, there should be no entry limit to the damage.
The report states that homeowners expressed concerns in relation to selling homes which have tested positive for mica or pyrite. Homeowners stated that all damaged dwellings should be accepted into the grant scheme within a maximum period of one year.

“We can accept that a home must be damaged, however, there can be no entry limit to the damage. Any level of cracking in a home is seen as damaged,” the homeowners said in a submission.
The homeowners said that any home that has tested and is positive for mica or pyrite cannot be sold. And therefore “any homes excluded from the scheme due to a damage threshold must be permitted to be sold with a guarantee that if the home shows damage, the new homeowner will then be accepted onto the scheme.”
The working group has also recommended a time limit of 18 months from the approval of the grant to the commencement of remediation works. The work should be completed within 15 months.
The report shows that homeowners had requested a time limit of five years, a time frame similar to the building of a new home with planning permission.

They cited difficulties such as lack of suitable temporary rental properties, the limited number of contractors available to carry out the remediation work and difficulty in funding any shortfall in monies to carry out the works.
The report also states that it appears inevitable that the scheme will have to be extended to additional counties other than Donegal and Mayo with widespread reports that defective blocks are an issue in Clare, Sligo, Limerick and Tipperary. Local authorities in those counties are working on submissions to the Department for inclusion in the scheme.
Consideration should also be given to extending the scheme to estates, towns or parts of counties but not necessarily the full county, the report says.

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