Article from the November 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

Socialist Party exposes Estate management fees rip-off

By Councillor Ruth Coppinger
ESTATE MANAGEMENT companies and the fees they charge are a major issue nationwide, with even Environment Minister, Dick Roche, now forced to question their legal validity.

The Socialist Party has been highlighting this scandal for over a year, firstly on Fingal Council where this new stealth tax is being charged in many new estates. Joe Higgins TD then brought the issue centre stage by raising it in the Dail. He pointed out the injustice that a millionaire can have his estate maintained from his taxes while ordinary workers, mainly young first-time buyers, should have to pay hundreds of euros a year extra.

The policy has been quietly encouraged by Fingal, Kildare and a host of other councils. In Fingal, the Council imposed a management company in Castlecurragh, its own flagship estate of social and affordable housing. Councils see it as a convenient way of privatising services on housing estates, thus saving themselves millions in maintenance. All they have to do is switch on the lights.

However, the people laughing all the way to the bank are developers. Hitherto they had to provide general maintenance for several years on estates they built from their own profits. Now, they get the people who buy the houses to pick up the tab - not just for grass cutting or street cleaning, but, more ominously, for water supply and public liability insurance in the open spaces.

The bonanza for builders is evident in Tyrrelstown, west Dublin, which will comprise 2,300 homes on completion. Eight management companies operate, with the directors of each made up of the developers who built the estate! A public meeting was called here by the Socialist Party and concerned residents in September, with 100 attending. It was discovered that a number of residents had been summonsed to court over non-payment of the fees. Representation has since been organised and a very active committee to fight the management companies set up and gaining momentum.

Under the charge of these developers, the water supply in Tyrrelstown was contaminated in June. In reply to a Socialist Party motion, Fingal Council say they intend to hand back the water network to the management companies. The health implications of a privatised water network are obvious. What is clear also is that any resident getting involved as a director of a management company may end up levying neighbours for thousands of euros should any new pipes or infrastructure be needed in future.

The Socialist Party is consistently campaigning on this issue. Residents are now becoming more organised, with action groups being set up to fight these fees on both the legal and political fronts. Anyone living in such a set-up can contact us for advice.

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