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43,000 on housing waiting list while 40,000 apartments lie vacant in Dublin alone

21 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh said a report from the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers' Institute (IAVI) which shows that there are 40,000 empty apartments in Dublin makes a mockery of the Government's housing policy.

Speaking today after the publication of the report which also said house prices dropped by 10% last year Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "While there are 43,000 families on housing waiting lists throughout the state and around 5000 homeless, there are 40,000 empty apartments in Dublin alone. This makes a mockery of this and previous Governments housing policy.

"If the Government had insisted that Part 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 was properly implemented then huge inroads could have been made to house many of those on the waiting lists and those unable to secure affordable housing. However, the Government instead amended that Act in 2002 to give developers a get out clause and millions has since been handed over to local authorities as payment for not providing 20% of housing developments for social and affordable housing.

"Today's report from the IAVI also notes that house prices fell by 10% last year with second hand apartment dropping by as much as 17%. It was inevitable that house prices would fall at some point as the housing market had become seriously over-valued in recent years.

"While house price moderation is to be welcomed, the reduction in house prices may cause some difficulties for those people who over borrowed when house prices were at their highest.

"Sinn Féin would be particularly concerned about the impact of this for those young couples who took out 100% mortgages on over-priced properties. Some of these people may find themselves in a negative equity position and this could cause real problems down the line if due to rising interest rates they are unable to meet mortgage repayments.

"The Government has to prepare for such eventualities. There has been a rise in repossessions of late - the Minister of State with responsibility for Housing must come up with innovative solutions to deal with the plight of those on low and average incomes who find they are facing the repossession of their home.

"It was under previous Fianna Fáil led Governments watch that house prices were allowed to become over inflated and that young couples were sold unsuitable 100% mortgage packages - it is now the responsibility of this Fianna Fáil led Government to protect low and average income homeowners from the consequences of Government inaction." ENDS

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