Recently I had cause to ask some questions regarding property management companies on behalf of someone who is being ripped off by one of these mafia outfits.
I first checked out the website of the National Consumer Agency and came across the following on a question and answer pamphlet.
Are property management companies regulated?
No, property management companies are not regulated. However, the Government plans to introduce a law to set up a national property services regulatory authority in late 2007
(Yes, that’s 2007).
I next rang the NCA to make further enquiries and spoke to an obviously embarrassed spokesperson.
“Does the NCA have power to act against the mafia management companies?”
“Has the Government introduced that legislation yet?”
“No, it’s still under consideration.”
“What government agency can a citizen approach to get action on these people?”
“The nearest you would get to a regulatory body would be the Private Residential Tenancies Board.”
“Do they have power over management companies?”
“I don’t think they do.” (So, he may just as well have recommended the Boy Scouts or The Legion of Mary).
“So, in effect, there’s no authority in the land with power to act against mafia management companies.”
“What advice do you have for the many thousands of citizens being ripped off by these people?”
“Well, they could contact the Free Legal Aid Centre to check the legal situation.”
With immense self control I managed to politely thank the spokesperson and hung up.
But hey, it’s not all bad news. The head of NCA, Ann Fitzgerald, has just been paid a performance related bonus of €24,300 on top of her grotesque salary €186,891.
I say grotesque because, clearly, Ms. Fitzgerald has little interest in the welfare of those she is charged to protect.
For example, her organisation has a policy of not prosecuting car dealers found to be clocking cars. Despite the fact that this practice puts the lives of consumers at risk the NCA is of the opinion that such prosecutions would be too protracted.
(Cynical consumers could be forgiven for thinking that such prosecutions are avoided in order to keep the ‘performance related bonuses’ kitty in a healthy state).
Instead, criminal car dealers are politely asked to sign a formal undertaking not to clock cars again.
I can just see it now, ruthless car dealers all over the country throwing darts at their formal undertaking as they continue, with impunity, to put the lives of consumers at risk.