For Oral Answer on : 10/11/2022
Question Number(s): 135 Question Reference(s): 55882/22
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Finance his plans, if any, to levy a tax on derelict properties; his further plans to incentivise the upgrade of such properties to encourage them to be brought back into use; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Addressing vacancy and dereliction, and maximising the use of existing housing stock, is a priority objective of the Government. In Housing for All, the Government has set out a suite of incentives available to encourage re-use of properties and increase the supply of housing. However, in addition, the Government is committed to exploring options around sanctions for non-use of residential property so that there is some penalty for leaving a property vacant for a prolonged period without a genuine reason at a time where there are pressures in terms of housing supply. This is why I am introducing the Vacant Homes Tax, announced in Budget 2023, which aims to increase the supply of homes for rent or purchase to meet demand. Further detail on this measure is set out in the Finance Bill, which was published on 20 October.
Regarding derelict properties, I am informed by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage that the Derelict Sites Act 1990 imposes a general duty on every owner and occupier of land to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the land does not become, or continue to be, a derelict site. The Act also imposes a duty on local authorities to take all reasonable steps, including the exercise of appropriate statutory powers, to ensure that any land within their functional area does not become, or continue to be, a derelict site. These powers include the power to prosecute owners who do not comply with notices served; making compulsory land purchases and carrying out necessary work at charge to the owners for the cost.
I am advised that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage continues to liaise with local authorities on the implementation of the Act with a view to improving its effectiveness. In this regard, a review of the Act was initiated in November 2021 and initial submissions have been sought from local authorities on potential improvements to the legislative provisions and the way they are applied. I am further advised that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has established a focused working group to progress this matter further.
It would be premature to speculate on possible legislative changes or policy changes in advance of the completion of this review.
In the case of refurbishing vacant or derelict property, my colleague the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage has introduced a number of schemes for direct funding such as the local authority administered Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant under the Croí Cónaithe Fund. I am advised that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage are working with the Vacant Homes Officers (VHO) in each local authority who will be available to provide advice and information on the schemes and the application process.