Monday’s Irish Times article (8-11-2010, p. 2: ‘Council appeals for developers’ bonds plan’) outlines a proposal by the Mayor of Cork County to draw down the developers’ bonds in order to finish public areas of uncompleted estates.  This is a welcome suggestion which, if acted upon, would surely go a long way towards alleviating the sense of disappointment and disillusionment being felt by numerous householders concerning their surrounding  residential environment.  However, it would still not address other related issues being experienced by many residents of unfinished estates all over the country.  Estates with public lighting need the means to turn the lights on; those with private sewage treatment plants need them to be commissioned and functioning.  Estates in which insufficient numbers of service charges are being collected (for example, if the owner of unsold houses, i.e. the developer, has gone bankrupt), are in considerable difficulties meeting these running costs.  In many cases, home-owners have no choice but to absorb these additional costs if they wish to keep their estate in some kind of reasonable condition.  In larger estates, where up to half of houses are empty, this could be too much of a financial burden to share around.  The prospects of being taken in charge by local authorities is also remote for many of these estates; apart from the problems meeting the required criteria for taking in charge, some are still within the five-year time frame allowed for completion of developments.  The problems for local authorities taking enforcement proceedings against developers who are no longer in business hardly helps the situation.  The role of NAMA is not entirely clear; if a developer’s debts and assets have been transferred to it, a question is whether it is now liable for the service charges on unsold houses in unfinished estates?

Marie Mahon