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Empty houses should be a priority for Housing Executive - McCann

4 August, 2011 - by Fra McCann

Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, Fra McCann, commenting on the issue of the high number of ghost estate's throughout the North has said many of these estates are in areas which would not be classed as in severe housing need and that the story has not highlighted is the tens of thousands of empty homes in towns and cities which have become a problem for many residents who are unlucky enough to live beside an abandoned house or those who are currently on the housing waiting list.

Speaking today Mr McCann said:
“A survey was carried several years ago by the Housing Executive stating that over 30,000 homes are lying empty this at a time of severe housing need. The majority of these houses are in areas of high demand. I have previously made it clear to the Housing executive that I believe this figure was a serious under estimation.

“Many of these houses were bought at the height of the market as investments and put out to rent in the private rented sector but due to the economic climate many owners have simply walked away from them and left them to rot, something which not only blights and area but also impacts on neighbouring houses.
“I believe the Housing Executive need to begin an up to date survey in order to accurately record how many of these houses exist as the previous survey was carried out in different financial circumstances and in a buoyant housing market, circumstances which have undoubtedly changed over the past 3 years.
“Given the price of many of the houses which are lying empty it should be investigated  how cost effective it would be to purchase these houses and bring them up to a decent standard and allocate them to people are in dire need of housing.  This would go some way to alleviating the demand.

"While there may be a focus on private ghost estates we must re-examine as a matter of urgency how many empty properties are lying idle within already built up areas especially within areas of high need.” 

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