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Ó Broin calls on Minister to be ambitious with Vacant Homes Strategy

22 June, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has this morning published Sinn Féin's submission to the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy on the vacant homes strategy. The submission outlines how up to 36,000 vacant units can be brought into use through a range of measures. Some of these initiatives include a statutory vacant homes register, a vacant homes tax and encouraging greater use of compulsory purchase orders, and the appointment of vacant homes officers.

Speaking after the launch, Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The CSO statistics have told us that there are currently 183,000 vacant homes across the state. The three government schemes currently in place aimed at bringing vacant units back into use are good schemes but are not ambitious enough and are inadequately funded. In fact, combined they would only bring 3% of the total vacant stock back into use in six years. 

“Our strategy would aim to return to active use a minimum of 20% of the current vacant stock, 36,000 units, over a period of six years, delivering approx. 6,000 units per year. The funding for this would come from within the capital funding allocation as outlined in government’s housing action plan.

“To help reach this target, local authorities should be instructed to complete a vacant home register which should include all properties that have been vacant for six months or more. The appointment of vacant homes officers would help to oversee the register and would also engage with vacant home owners.

“Sinn Féin is of the view that in order to maximise the return of vacant units to active use we need incentives for those who require assistance to bring these units back to use and penalties for those who wilfully leave properties empty. The government should introduce a vacant homes tax applicable to properties vacant for more than six months within DEDs or LEAs determined by local authorities as having a high level of housing need and a high level of vacancy. This would be subject to certain exemptions including homes in probate and in the Fair Deal scheme. 

“We have submitted our proposals to the Department of Housing and I hope they will inform the government’s long –awaited vacant homes strategy. We are in the midst of a supply and affordability crisis and turning around vacant units is the quickest and most cost effective way of providing more homes.” 

Note: Please see attached the document in question 

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