The Public Accounts Committee has criticised local authorities and the Department of Housing for paying millions of euro to landlords without inspecting whether their properties are substandard or dangerous. 

The Committee said State bodies are failing to meet their statuary obligations to inspect properties where housing assistance payments are made. 

Last year €153m was paid to private landlords under the Housing Assistance Payment scheme. 

This figure is set to rise to over €300m in 2018. 

In its periodic report published today, the Public Accounts Committee said it was unacceptable that no data is available regarding the level of inspection of HAP properties.

It said significant sums of money are being paid to landlords who might be providing substandard or dangerous accommodation to vulnerable tenants. 

The Committee has recommended that local authorities carry out inspections in properties in line with their obligations under relevant legislation. 

The Chairman of the PAC Seán Fleming said local authorities have a statuary duty to inspect properties within eight months where Housing Assistance Payments are being made. 

He said only 25% of properties are being inspected, because the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government changed the targets.

"For the Department to set aside 75% of targets and not comply with statuary obligations is unacceptable and is something the PAC will be looking into in the next term" he said. 

"The PAC is on the case of bodies which are not fulfilling their statuary duties" he added. 

Concerns raised over funding of RTÉ

The Public Accounts Committee has also recommended that the current television licensing system is reviewed as a matter of urgency with a view to decreasing evasion rates.

It said the current level of TV licence evasion at 15% is contributing to RTÉ’s difficulties in delivering on its obligations as a public service broadcaster.

The PAC also recommended that RTÉ introduce a clear policy and guidelines regarding the use of contracts for services.

This follows a review carried out by Eversheds Sutherland which found that some workers at RTÉ may have been misclassified as self-employed, resulting in them losing out on certain employment benefits.

The Committee welcomed the fact that RTÉ has accepted the report’s recommendations.