Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Private Rental Sector: Discussion

Photo of Thomas GouldThomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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While we are looking at landlords leaving, the biggest issue I have relates to vacancy and vacant and derelict properties. I met a landlord a few weeks ago who was giving out to me, not in an aggressive way but, rather, in kind of a funny way. He had to do up his property because I raised the matter in the Dáil and got the property put on the derelict sites register in Cork city. It was an old family butcher's house that has been empty for 35 years. Because of pressure we exerted on Cork City Council to get it on the register and have a levy imposed, he is now converting it into a three-bedroom apartment and a two-bedroom apartment. That is only happening because we pushed to have the property placed on the register. The point he made is that he would have moved on that property - perhaps not 35 years ago but certainly years earlier - if the supports had been there.

We are looking vacant properties, a housing crisis and a homelessness crisis. According to CSO figures, there are 166,000 vacant properties. According to GeoDirectory, there are 90,000. The actual number is probably somewhere in between. Landlords are sitting on properties that could be used as homes for people and could bring in income for those landlords. There are many people who are landlords, but not by intention. They may have been left properties by family members who passed away. These people might not have the, let us say, the ability to do anything with those properties. They might be vulnerable individuals. We need to take a carrot-and-stick approach in respect of these people. There should be the stick for people who will not engage or who just state “This is my property and I will leave it to rot if I want”. I do not believe in people who do that, but I believe in the good landlords. Senator Cummins made the point earlier that the vast majority of landlords are good. The vast majority of tenants are also good. It is hard to see properties in my community just boarded up for ten, 20 or 30 years. What can we do for landlords such as those to whom I refer?