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Ireland
Wednesday, January 26, 2022

‘Huge grant support’ for derelict housing to be provided by the Government to tackle property vacancy

Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan has stated that the Government will be providing a “huge grant support” to help people buy derelict housing with some 55% of the money raised from the carbon tax also going back to homeowners. Ryan said that the phenomenon of “keeping up with the Joneses” could potentially encourage householders to retrofit houses to improve energy ratings.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien announced that a grant of up to €30,000 would be provided to help people buy derelict housing to renovate and live in and will be launched in the coming weeks. This move is aimed at bringing more families into towns and villages as O’Brien said vacancy is an untapped resource we should be using. With a significant amount of derelict and dilapidated buildings across the country, the new grant system looks to tackle this issue as figures from Census 2016 reveal that there were 183,312 units vacant across the State, excluding holiday homes.

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“If you drive through the country, you will see very good properties on main streets and villages and towns which are empty”.

The grant will also be looking at planning difficulties relating to above-the-shop units while O’Brien intends to make use of the Repair and Leasing Scheme as well as Compulsory Purchase Orders. The Repair and Leasing Scheme is designed to bring vacant properties in need of repair back into use for social housing and is aimed at owners of such properties who cannot afford repairs needed to bring their property up to the standard required to rent it out.

The Compulsory Purchase Order is aimed at allowing acquiring authorities to take land and property without the consent of the owner to allow a public infrastructure project to go ahead for the common good while providing compensation to the owner.

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A new specific unit in the Department of Housing, dedicated on vacancy will be set up to ensure that local authorities will be on a consistent level of delivery as vacancy had beforehand been thrown in with everything else, according to O’Brien, who added that bringing vacant properties under the existing Help To Buy scheme would not have been feasible.

In a move that has never been done at this level before, O’Brien said, “I’ll be bringing forward under Croí Cónaithe Towns and Villages, a grant for people who wish to buy a home to live in” which will be a secondhand home with some being older homes while a grant will be provided to help them renovate that home as long as they live in it. A grant in the region of €20,000 to €30,000 will be provided through local authorities with the full details of the scheme yet to be finalised in the first quarter of this year.

Developed by Mayo County Council on behalf of the local Government sector, vacanthomes.ie was set up and provides a portal for individuals to anonymously submit vacant properties and alert local authorities of such properties who will then consult the owner to see if the property can be re-used. According to O’Brien, a nationwide total of 6,263 properties were logged on the website.

The GeoView directory Q4 2020 report discovered that there are 92,251 vacant addresses in Ireland, which represents 4.6% of all building stock. However, no centralised data regarding vacancies around the country currently exist. According to Minister O’Brien, targets will be set with each local authority while the exact parameters of the scheme have yet to be fully agreed on but stipulations regarding the age of the property and the duration of its vacancy will apply.

IMAGE – “Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan” by The Green Party / Comhaontas Glas is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

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