For Written Answer on : 22/06/2021
Question Number(s): 312 Question Reference(s): 33195/21
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 263, 264 and 265 of 13 May 2021, his plans to further encourage and incentivise the repurposing of vacant properties in private ownership; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
My Department is committed to ensuring that existing housing stock is utilised to its fullest extent including providing a targeted, effective and co-ordinated approach to identifying and tackling vacancy across Ireland. There are currently a range of measures to assist in ensuring that our existing housing stock is used to the greatest extent possible.
My Department published the National Vacant Housing Reuse Strategy, in 2018, which contains a range of objectives and key actions to be pursued in partnership with stakeholders and agencies across the housing sector to address vacancy in our housing stock. The Strategy is underpinned by a number of supports and guidance put in place by my Department to assist in bringing vacant housing stock back into use including:
- The Repair and Leasing Scheme which assists private property owners, local authority and Approved Housing Bodies to utilise existing vacant housing stock throughout the country as social housing. The scheme is targeted at owners of vacant properties who cannot afford or access the funding needed to bring their properties up to the required standard for a rental property. The maximum loan for property repair available under the Repair and Lease Scheme has recently been increased by my Department from €40,000 to €60,000. This increase allows for greater access to the scheme for owners of properties that require more extensive repairs.
- The Buy and Renew Scheme particularly focuses on older vacant homes to help tackle the problem of dereliction and improve the appearance of the community. It provides the option for suitable properties to be purchased by local authorities, rather than leased, if that is the preference of the owners.
- In December 2018 my Department published the Bringing Back Homes Manual for the Reuse of Existing Buildings. Revitalising our main streets through well designed refurbishment of residential units, particularly above shops, could help to rejuvenate smaller town centres and city streets as well as produce more houses.
To further support work at local authority level, my Department has secured funding for each local authority to support the work of a Vacant Homes Office. The provision of central funding reinforces the capacity of my Department’s Vacant Homes Unit to liaise with and seek information/statistics from a dedicated contact point within each local authority. The Vacant Homes Office plays a key role in the co-ordination of work to tackle vacancy within each local authority.