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Government failing on Vacant Housing – Ó Broin

17 January, 2019 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has criticised the government for over promising and under delivering on its modest vacant homes targets.

According to information received in response to a parliamentary question, only 829 homes have been delivered to date via three government schemes; Repair and Lease, Buy and Renew, and the Housing Agency Fund.

Responding to the disappointing figures, Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The information I received from the Minister for Housing indicates that, since the three vacant homes schemes became operational, only 829 homes have been brought into use.

“Only 48 homes had been brought back into use and were tenanted under the Repair and Lease scheme.

“Only 250 homes have been delivered via Buy and Renew and only 531 homes have been purchased out of the €70m rolling Housing Agency fund, despite 1,800 homes being offered.

“This is a dismal rate of return given the census identified 189,000 vacant homes across the country in 2016 and the Geo Directories confirmed 90,000 of this figure.

“It is even more disappointing when you consider that the government has come nowhere close to hitting the modest targets it set for delivery under these schemes in Rebuilding Ireland.

“When the Repair and Leasing scheme was launched by Simon Coveney in February 2017, he announced targets of 800 homes for 2017, 70 were delivered, and he anticipated that between 2017 and 2021 3,500 units would be secured for social housing via this scheme.

“Two years in and despite tweaks to the scheme for 2018, the government has only reached 1.4% of its target.

“Under Buy and Renew, a scheme where funding is provided to local authorities to acquire units for social housing, 250 homes have been delivered in 2017 and 2018 when, at the time, Minister Coveney expected the scheme to deliver between 400 and 500 renewed houses for social housing use.

“The Housing Agency €70m rolling fund has only delivered 531 homes as of the end of November 2018. This fund was created to acquire turnkey properties from banks and funds. It is disappointing that despite 1,800 homes being offered and a target of 1,600 properties to be delivered by 2020, purchases have only closed on 531.

“The response to the parliamentary question also highlights the painfully slow delivery of rapid build units. To date only 325 homes had been delivered under the programme out of an original target of 1,500 units by the end of 2018.

“The government’s vacant homes programmes are not delivering. The targets are too modest and the funding is too low. It should be aiming to return a minimum of 20% of the current vacant stock (36,000 units) averaging around 6,000 homes per year.

“The government should also reconsider its opposition to increasing the vacant site levy and a Vacant Property Tax in order to encourage more supply in the market.” 

Note: Please see the PQ in question below

For Oral Answer on : 15/01/2019

Question Number(s): 51 Question Reference(s): 1433/19

Department: Housing, Planning and Local Government

Asked by: Eoin Ó Broin T.D.



To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the number of rapid build properties constructed under Rebuilding Ireland to date; the number tenanted to date; the number of properties delivered to date via the vacant housing funds including the rolling €70 million allocated to the Housing Agency, the repair and lease scheme and the buy and renew scheme; and the reason there is such a large gap between the targets set in 2016 and delivery to date.


Since 2016, some 40 rapid delivery projects have been added to the social housing construction pipeline and these are expected to yield in the region of 1,100 homes over the period to 2021.  While data in relation to Q4 2018 outputs is currently being compiled, data up to Q3 2018 shows that 325 homes had been delivered under the programme. The allocation and tenanting of these and all social housing homes is a matter for the relevant local authority.

In relation to the repair and leasing scheme- to end Q3 2018, a total of 1,214 applications had been received from property owners; 48 homes had been brought back into use and were tenanted; and a further 122 agreements for lease had been signed. In addition, over 250 social housing homes have been delivered to date through the buy & renew scheme, including some properties that may have initially been considered under the repair and leasing scheme.

Under the Housing Agency €70 million Fund, the Agency had bids accepted on 874 homes at end November 2018,  814 of which were vacant. Contracts have been signed for 571 homes and 531 of these purchases have closed. 

Each local authority now has a dedicated Vacant Homes Office, whose work includes establishing a co-ordinated approach towards the implementation of their Vacant Homes Action Plans. Having undertaken initial vacancy assessments within their administrative areas, and drilling down into the available vacancy statistical data, it appears that a significant proportion of potentially vacant residential properties are not in areas of high demand for housing. Notwithstanding this, my Department will continue to work closely with local authorities and other key stakeholders to ensure that all reasonable avenues for addressing vacancy are pursued.

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