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Government failure to take decisive action on vacant homes factor in housing crisis - Eoin Ó Broin TD

4 October, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has criticised the government for failing to introduce decisive measures to bring vacant homes back into use. 

Speaking today ahead of a Dáil debate on the issue, Deputy Ó Broin said: 

“Sinn Féin has made a number of recommendations to the government last August on how to tackle the issue of vacant homes. 

“It is quicker and cheaper for the government to turn around vacant units than it is for them to build new homes. At the moment it has a number of decent schemes in place such as Repair and Lease and Buy and Renew however they are chronically underfunded and under publicised. 

“A roadblock to identifying suitable properties is the lack of a comprehensive state wide vacant homes register. This urgently needs to be developed and managed. 

“The one stop shop planning proposals put forward by Fianna Fáil this evening will help when the vacant units have been identified. 

"It is sensible to make the process easier for people who are willing to refurbish their properties and bring them back to use. However we would like to see a sunset clause included in the Bill as expedited planning should not become the norm.

“We also have some concerns around the issuing of a single certificate or a ‘works permit’ that replaces a fire safety certificate, a disability certificate and verifies compliance with other parts of the Building Regulations. This has the potential to compromise building standards and fire safety standards.

“We need a punitive measure in place to deal with property owners who are unwilling to engage with local authorities. A vacant homes tax operating in conjunction with these refurbishment measures, would further incentivise property owners wilfully leaving homes empty to return their properties to use.

“Both Minister’s Donoghue and Murphy have an opportunity in next week’s budget to introduce such a tax. It needs to be more than an empty gesture. It needs to have an impact on those wilfully leaving properties sitting empty.”

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