424. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to introduce legislation or take measures to assist residents in multi-unit estates with management companies to release house owners from these companies, as houses have no need of these companies and yet are legally obliged to continue to pay fees to them; and her views on house owners facing legal action by these companies. [9097/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The primary purpose of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 is to establish a statutory framework governing the ownership and management of common areas of multi-unit developments and to facilitate the fair, efficient and effective management of owners' management companies (OMCs) which are the bodies established for the management of such areas. These are companies registered under the Companies Act which are established for the management of such areas, the members of which are the owners of residential units within the development.
The general position is that the purchaser of a residential unit in a multi-unit development, including residential estates with an OMC structure, obtains a long lease on his or her residential unit and becomes a member of the OMC. The OMC in turn owns not only the common areas of the development or estate but also the reversion, whether freehold or leasehold, in all the residential units. These arrangements and the related legal obligations, including requirements to pay service charges and contributions to a sinking fund, are normally contained in the owner's title deeds. Any subsequent failure by the owner to comply with obligations set out in the title deeds could give rise to conveyancing difficulties in the event of an intended sale or transfer of the residential unit concerned.
Section 2(2) of the Act applies the sections set out in Schedule 2 to multi-unit developments containing houses, whether detached, semi-detached or terraced, and which have an OMC structure. It appears that a requirement to establish an OMC structure in many cases was a condition of the planning permission granted for the development. As regards the taking in charge of such developments by local authorities, I am aware that the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has issued a guidance document to the local authorities on this matter.