Mayo Co Council is being accused of having breached the trust of home owners after it issued letters of refusal to 20 applicants to the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme.
The applicants in question have been rocked by the local authority’s claim that pattern cracking is not present in their properties, rendering their homes classified as undamaged in the building group table 1 of the relevant protocol – IS465:2018.
Speaking on Newstalk Radio just now, Jamie Lee Donnelly, who was one of those refused, claimed that the decision was taken by Mayo Co Council without having sent anyone out to visually inspect the applicants’ properties.
She said she paid a designated engineer to inspect and report on the cracks in her home and also had it tested for pyrite and submitted all of the findings to Mayo Co Council as part of her application.
The laboratory analysis of the test results confirmed what the engineer had concluded in his report (which included photographic evidence) that the cracks were due to defective concrete blocks and that the damage falls under group 3 of the protocol, she explained.
She went on to describe the network of visible horizontal and vertical cracks running across the exterior and interior of her home:
“It is the opinion of Mayo Co Council that pattern cracking is not present (in my home) without coming to look at it. They formed that opinion from a desk,” Ms Donnelly said.
The refusal of their applications leaves the applicant homeowners liable for the €5,000 cost of the pyrite test that was carried out on their homes and no opportunity for redress for any remediation works that may have be to carried out.
“This is leaving the homeowners not very trusting of Mayo Co Council considering that they could not have made this decision without calling to anyone’s homes,” Ms Donnelly remarked.
While the applicants can appeal this decision, they have been provided with no detail as to what that process entails and who adjudicates the appeal, Ms Donnelly said.
Loren Devers, who is one of the Mayo delegates on the working group currently reviewing the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme following a massive campaign for 100% redress, has also had her application for the scheme refused by Mayo Co Council.
She said other homes that are not as badly damaged as hers and properties in the same estate have been approved.
“That’s the big thing about this. It’s not just that we are sore that we haven’t got approved. We have all used the same engineer, he has done the same reports, all of the houses are the same. We have had no visits from Mayo County Council engineers out to the houses to form this opinion.”
She claimed that 74 of the initial 99 Mayo applications submitted since the scheme opened last year were approved but that the working group has now been informed that no home in Mayo has been approved for the scheme since April.
“We questioned that because if you go on the previous months it was working out at about eight people approved per month and then from April to July nobody has got through. What’s going on there?” Loren asked.
Responding to the applicants, Mayo Co Council explained that it administers the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme on behalf of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and in compliance with the associated regulations and guidelines.
It totally understand the stress and trauma that the householders have in relation to their homes being affected, however, in a number of cases the applications did not meet the eligibility of the scheme. There is an appeals process available to applicants who were deemed ineligible for the scheme, the council stated.
“To date Mayo County Council has received 99 applications under this scheme of which 74 approvals have been granted. Five applications require further detail and in the case of 20 applicants we are unable to confirm eligibility under the scheme .
Mayo County Council is part of the DCB working group set up by the Minister to review the scheme under agreed terms of reference which is due to report by the end of July’.