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Dedicated vacant homes officers and a vacant homes tax needed to drive vacant homes refurbishment schemes – Ó Broin

10 August, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD


Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has stated that the government’s repair and lease scheme would have a greater impact if dedicated vacant homes officers were hired to identify properties and if there were a vacant homes tax to penalise those sitting on vacant homes with no good reason.

Speaking this morning, Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The repair and lease scheme is a good idea in theory. In practice however, it has been poorly promoted and poorly funded. 

“Councils need to take a more proactive approach. This would require dedicated vacant homes officers going out and engaging owners to encourage them to avail of the available schemes. These officers should build up a vacant homes register and be working to a vacant homes plan.

“The poor take up of the scheme also shows the need for a stick as well as the carrot for those wilfully and speculatively sitting on vacant homes. A vacant homes tax needs to operate in conjunction with these refurbishment schemes to further incentivise property owners wilfully leaving homes empty to return their empty properties to use. 

“Any vacant homes tax also needs to be more than a token gesture and must be punitive in nature. In Sinn Féin’s submission to the government’s vacant homes strategy, we outlined a number of approaches the government could take to implementing such a tax, such as based on the percentage of the market value of the property.

“However, in advance of the introduction of such a measure, a state wide vacant homes register must be rolled out. We need to know how many vacant homes will actually be available for refurbishment and where they are. Key to developing this register is dedicated vacant homes officers employed by local authorities. A huge part of their role would be to engage with vacant property owners and encourage them to return them back into use.” 

Note: Please find Sinn Féin’s Vacant Homes Strategy attached.

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