Written answers

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Local Authority Charges

9:00 pm

Photo of Áine CollinsÁine Collins (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Question 481: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government with regard to the second house tax, the circumstances in which a second house would be deemed uninhabitable. [9925/12]

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, provides the legislative basis for the charge on non-principal private residences.

The Act places the charge under the care and management of the local authorities, and application in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority. Interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.

The definition of “residential property” in section 2(1) is relevant when considering whether a property that is not used or lived in is liable to the charge on non-principal private residences.

There are a number of indicators as to what makes a property suitable for occupation for the purposes of determining liability to the charge on non-principal private residences. The indicators include the structure of the property, whether or not it has a roof, whether or not it is so affected by dampness as to render it unsuitable for habitation, and whether or not it has sanitary facilities, including a water closet and water supply. A property that is not suitable for occupation should not be regarded as a residential property within the meaning of the Act.

The Act places the onus on an owner of a residential property to assess his or her liability to the charge on the liability date (31 March, 2012) and, if liable, to declare that liability and to pay the charge in respect of that property by the due date.

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
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Question 483: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if houses which are available for self-catering are exempt from paying the household charge of €100. [9945/12]

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge.

The Act places the household charge under the care and management of the local authorities, and application in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority. Interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.

Under the legislation, an owner of a residential property on the liability date of 1 January 2012 is liable to pay the household charge by 31 March 2012, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver.

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides for a number of exemptions and waivers from payment of the household charge.

The exemptions from payment of the household charge are -

· Residential properties that are part of the trading stock of a business and have not been sold or been the source of any income since construction,

· Residential property owned by a Minister of the Government, a housing authority or the Health Service Executive,

· Voluntary and co-operative housing,

· Residential property subject to commercial rates and wholly used as a dwelling,

· Residential property owned by certain charities or discretionary trusts, and

· Residential property which an owner has vacated due to long-term mental or physical infirmity (e.g. elderly person that has moved into a nursing home).

The waivers which apply concern -

· Owners of residential property entitled to mortgage interest supplement, and

· Owners of houses in certain unfinished housing estates.

Section 2 of the Act sets out the meaning of “residential property” for the purposes of the Act. In particular, section 2(2)(d) of the Act provides that a building that is wholly used as a dwelling (other than a dwelling that forms part of a mixed hereditament within the meaning of the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1978), and in respect of which local authority rates are payable, is not a residential property for the purposes of the household charge.

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