Written answers

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Vacant Properties

Sorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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168. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the number of empty or unoccupied domestic dwellings in County Longford by local electoral area. [18080/21]

Sorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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169. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the number of empty or unoccupied domestic dwellings in County Westmeath by local electoral area. [18081/21]

Sorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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170. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the number of vacant properties in County Longford as per a website (details supplied). [18082/21]

Sorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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171. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the number of vacant properties in County Westmeath as per a website (details supplied). [18083/21]

Sorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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172. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the action that has been taken to date in relation to the number of domestic properties logged on the vacant homes portal in County Longford. [18084/21]

Sorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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173. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the action that has been taken to date in relation to the number of domestic properties logged on the vacant homes portal in County Westmeath. [18085/21]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 to 173, inclusive, together.

My Department does not hold the data on the amount of empty or unoccupied domestic dwellings in the State, nor does it hold data on the number of vacant properties in local electoral areas.

The innovative website vacanthomes.ie was developed by Mayo County Council in July 2017 on behalf of the local government sector to serve as a central portal for individuals to anonymously log possible vacant homes and to alert local authorities so that they can then follow up with the registered owners.

It is a key tool in the effort to identify and bring long-term vacant homes back into use, and this source of locally generated information is proving useful in supplementing the country-wide analysis on vacancy and in mobilising communities to assist local authorities in developing and implementing a targeted approach. The website provides useful information for property owners on how to bring their vacant properties back into use and on available financial supports.

The latest statistics from vacanthomes.ie indicate that 106properties in County Westmeath and 39properties in County Longford have been logged on the website.

My Department is focused on ensuring that existing housing stock is utilised to its fullest extent including a targeted, effective and co-ordinated approach to identifying and tackling vacancy across Ireland. In that regard, my Department and local authorities are being proactive in dealing with vacant properties and there are a number of schemes available to incentivise reactivating suitable dwellings into the liveable housing stock.

The National Vacant Housing Reuse Strategy was published in July 2018, it provides a targeted, effective and coordinated approach to identifying and tackling vacancy across Ireland. The range of objectives and actions it specifies have been pursued in partnership with stakeholders and agencies across the housing sector to address vacancy in our housing stock.

The key drivers of these actions are: local authorities, the Housing Agency, and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), supported by schemes available within my Department specifically designed to tackle vacancy, such as the Repair and Lease Scheme, the Buy and Renew Scheme and the Long Term Leasing Scheme.

- The Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS)is targeted at owners of vacant properties who cannot afford or access the funding needed to bring their properties up to the required standard for rental properties. The scheme provides upfront funding to carry out the works and, in return, the property owner agrees to lease the dwelling to the local authority to be used as social housing for a period up to 25 years. The maximum loan for property repair available under the Repair and Lease scheme has been increased by my Department from €40,000 to €60,000.

- The Buy and Renewinitiative allows local authorities to purchase private vacant properties for use as social housing.

- The Housing Acquisitions Fundis a €70 million revolving that was established in January 2017 with the objective of enabling the Housing Agency to acquire vacant units from banks and investment companies for social housing use. The fund is replenished by the Housing Agency through the sale of units primarily to the AHB sector and the funds received are then recycled back into the fund for future acquisitions.

The table below gives a breakdown of the number of properties delivered under each of the schemes in Counties Westmeath and Longford.

Local Authority Repair and Lease Dwellings Delivered Q2 2017 to Q4 2020 Buy and Renew Dwellings Delivered Q2 2017 to Q4 2020 Housing Agency Acquisitions

Dwellings Delivered

Q2 2017 to Q4 2020
Total
Longford 6 11 7 24
Westmeath 1 4 13 18
Total 7 15 20 42

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