‘Carrot and stick’ scheme could release 17,000 vacant homes on the market – The Irish Times

A combination of incentives and penalties could bring a “large proportion” of the estimated 167,000 vacant properties in Ireland back into service, easing Ireland’s “chronic shortage of affordable housing”.

The Hardware Association of Ireland, the national representative body of building materials dealers, DIY retailers and building materials suppliers, presented a new set of proposals last week which it says could put on the market 6,000 additional homes each year for the next three years. .

Preliminary census figures, carried out by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) in April, showed a total of 166,752 vacant homes across the country, or 7.8% of the housing stock.

However, this number contains many dwellings that may be unoccupied for a relatively short period of time and a house deemed vacant does not necessarily mean that a house is available for reuse or to house others, the Ministry of Finance said on last month.

But citing CSO data, the Hardware Association said that of the nearly 167,000 vacant homes, 86,000 had only been unoccupied since 2016, a relatively short period of vacancy,” which may indicate they are in a relatively decent condition.

Of these 86,000, some 49,000 homes are located in cities and towns with more than 5,000 inhabitants and in areas where, in most cases, the price of a second-hand home is above €235,000.

Excluding the approximately 4,000 homes included in the Fair Deal scheme and assuming that an additional 25% of homes are likely to be legally immobilized, the association estimated that around 33,778 could be refurbished at a reasonable price.

Holiday tax

If adoption of an incentive program were 50%, that means 16,889 homes could come on the market over the next three years, adding 5,000 to 6,000 to the national housing stock each year.

To do this, the government could take a “carrot and stick” approach to the issue of empty houses, said Martin Markey, chief executive of the association.

Among other things, a 6% vacant property tax should be “enacted and fully operational as a matter of priority”, the association’s research paper concluded, with exemptions for exceptional cases.

It could generate up to €600million, he said, and fund an extension of the Vacant Home Buyer’s Aid Scheme which would see first-time buyers of empty properties receive a grant of up to €50,000. euros.

Under the current repair and let scheme – aimed at owners of vacant properties who cannot afford to bring those properties up to rental standards – the government could provide interest-free loans of up to €60,000 to cover construction costs.

“This allowance may be offset by other income in the year that further improvements have been made,” the association said.

“There is an urgent need to tackle the problem of vacant housing, not only to help solve the housing crisis, but also to rejuvenate towns and villages across Ireland,” Mr Markey said.

“Renovating empty homes has the added benefit of being affordable and their carbon emissions are much lower than building a new home. There are fewer planning complications and it can be done much faster than new builds. We have a huge stock of empty homes just waiting to be renovated, so this is a huge opportunity we want to unlock.”

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