A group representing owners of apartments with structural defects has said it estimates that around 92,000 apartments are affected by construction faults.

The Construction Defects Alliance has appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government.

It is calling for State redress to help the people affected.

In an opening statement the group's spokesperson Kath Cottier said owners of apartments with structural defects are under huge stress because of the financial burden and worries over fire safety.

The group is made up of apartment owners in a number of locations in the Greater Dublin Area.

Ms Cottier said that fixing fire defects has led to hikes in annual service charges on top of mortgage payments and remediation levies.

She said that owners are frustrated when they hear Government ministers say the issue is a private contractual matter and nothing to do with the State.

She called for the implementation of a report by the Housing Committee which recommended the  establishment of a redress scheme to assist homeowners whose defective houses were built prior to the 2014 building regulations.

Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin told the committee that the developers who are responsible for building what he described as "shoddy homes" should pay.

Deputy Ó Broin said the committee's report called for the State to set up an independent body to bring together the parties in order to bring about a resolution.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Andrew Prior, who owns an apartment with construction defects, told the committee that it was stressful knowing that he had tenants living in his apartment which had a fire risk.

"To know that there might be a fire and they might not be protected was quite a considerable stress," he said.

Mr Prior told the committee that he did not take any tenants with children due to the risk.

He said the financial stress was even worse costing about €250 a month for remedial works for the last 30 months.

Mr Prior said: "It's a hardship but I can afford it I know there are families who can't afford it and who can't pay and that makes it harder for the rest of us because we don't have the money to complete the works."

He said the fire officer was telling apartment owners that they had to fix the problems or they would have "to take action."

Mr Prior said there had been eight fires in the complex - the Beacon South Quarter in Dublin - in the last five years which he described as worrying.

He said someone had deliberately decided not to put the fire stopping in above the door outside his apartment and this individual was probably still working in the construction industry.

Green Party TD Catherine Martin told the committee that she was worried a tragedy would occur before the Government gives the issue of construction defects attention.

She said this was a public safety issue and should not be tolerated.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's Darragh O'Brien said it was very frustrating for people if they know a development has massive defects and the same developer builds another development in the same area.

He said there was a mechanism in the planning act that would allow the local authority to refuse permission, adding that it was a very serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Long term use of HAP scheme criticised

A former Minister for Housing has criticised the critical of long term use of the Housing Assistance Payment scheme.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said one aspect that has considerably worsened is processing times which she said now averages at nine weeks in Kildare.

She said people eligible for HAP whose accommodation is not processed in a timely manner, after they have been taken off the housing list, are left effectively homeless and have lost their place on the list.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney, also a former Minister for Housing, said HAP tenancies provided more security of tenure for tenants and more security for landlords.

He said as they build social housing provision stock there will be a reliance on HAP, but he said he is willing to hear vulnerabilities that affect people availing of it.

Ms Murphy said the problem is not unique to Kildare, rather she just used it as an example.

She said the delay is at local authority level and she expects other deputies are seeing the problem in their areas.

Mr Coveney said HAP has been an improvement on rent allowance but he acknowledged that it is not perfect.

Additional reporting Gail Conway