Written answers

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Vacant Properties

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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233. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the number of vacant property refurbishment grant applications received by each local authority under the Croí Cónaithe (towns) fund for both towns and rural areas, respectively; the corresponding number of applications approved in each instance; if he will consider extending the grant to allow for the letting of property in light of the current housing crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2546/23]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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Pathway 4 of Housing for All sets out a blueprint to address vacancy and make efficient use of our existing housing stock. Many areas of cities, towns and villages of all sizes face the blight of vacant properties, which, if brought back into use, could add real vibrancy and provide new accommodation in those areas. The Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund is a key initiative which underpins these policy objectives set out in Pathway Four of Housing for All.

In July 2022, the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant was launched as part of the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund. The grant benefits those who wish to turn a formerly vacant house or building into their principal private residence. The grant, which was initially launched in respect of vacant properties in towns and villages, was expanded to include eligible vacant properties in both cities and rural areas from 15 November, 2022.

On 21 September 2022, the Ready to Build Scheme was launched, also funded under the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund. Under the Ready to Build Scheme, local authorities will make serviced sites in towns and villages available to potential individual purchasers to build their homes. These sites will be available at a discount on the market value of the site for the building of a property for occupation as the principal private residence of the purchaser.

When the Fund was launched, a commitment was given that the schemes funded by it would be kept under ongoing review. Feedback on the Vacant Property Refurbishment Scheme has been very positive, with 716 applications reported to 31 December 2022. In order for applications to be assessed and a decision made, specified supporting documentation must be submitted with the application and a site visit carried out by the local authority to assess the works being applied for. In some cases this may involve the local authority reverting to the applicant for additional information. Drawdown of the grant occurs on completion of the works applied for and a second site visit by the local authority. It is intended that in future, data including a breakdown by local authority of grants received and approved, will be published on my Department's website on a quarterly basis. Information of the nature sought in the Question is being compiled and will be published shortly.

Although interim reviews of the schemes are ongoing, there are no plans to extend the grant to allow for the letting of properties. However, the Repair and Leasing Scheme does provide an upfront loan, to a maximum of €60,000 (including VAT) per unit, to owners of vacant properties which require work to bring the units up to the required standard for rental properties. In return, the property is made available for social housing for a period of between 5 and 25 years. The cost of repairs is offset against reduced lease payments to the property owner.

Further information in respect of these schemes and the application process can be obtained from the Vacant Homes Officer in each local authority.


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