SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has raised serious concerns around the future maintenance and condition of 85,000 Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) owned properties.
Mr Durkan was speaking after it emerged that contractors terminated £455m contracts.
Eleven out of 13 contractors employed to complete maintenance and fit-out works left their posts last week.
Foyle MLA Mr Durkan commented:
“There were murmurs of discontent in recent months from contractors employed by NIHE to carry out maintenance works in properties throughout the North. The majority of contractors choosing to terminate extremely lucrative contracts would hint at serious issues within the Housing Executive and seemingly little effort on their part to reach a suitable agreement.
“I appreciate that a great deal of maintenance works were stalled during the pandemic creating a significant backlog. The subsequent exponential rise in the cost of materials and difficulty securing resources undoubtedly placed further pressures on contractors to deliver results. The knock-on effect this will have on Housing Executive tenants is cause for concern. Many older NIHE owned housing stock is in a state of disrepair and in very poor condition. From my own experience, constituents living in older NIHE properties repeatedly raise complaints around damp and energy inefficiency. In the current climate of increasing energy hikes, the potential impact this walk out will have on the delivery of promised retrofitting energy efficiency measures and in general property repairs, is seriously worrying.
“Within the last year I’ve been made aware of problems between NIHE and contractors including unrealistic performance targets and concerns surrounding protracted delays with issuing warranted bonds for works. These issues were brought to the attention of Communities Minster Deirdre Hargey who displayed a lackadaisical approach to reaching a resolution. Both the Minister and NIHE need to act urgently to get a grip on this situation and ensure tenants are not disadvantaged.”