A new grant of up to € 30,000 to help people buying abandoned properties to renovate and live in is due to be launched in the coming weeks, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has revealed.
Mr. O’Brien is about to announce financial support to fight crime as part of a series of measures to attract more families to towns and villages.
“The vacant position is an untapped resource that we should be using,” he said.
The new grant will be part of a multi-pronged approach to tackle unoccupied and dilapidated buildings across the country that will also examine the planning challenges associated with units above stores.
Mr O’Brien said he intends to make more use of the repair and lease model as well as mandatory purchase orders (CPOs), and will make significant changes to the categorization of protected structures with the aim of free up more properties that are currently unused. .
All this work will come under a new unit dedicated to vacant positions within the Ministry of Housing.
In an interview with the, Mr O’Brien said: “This will be a specific unit within my own department: a dedicated vacancies team, which will be responsible for ensuring that our local authorities achieve a consistent level of delivery, as the positions vacancies were so far kind of thrown in with everything else.
Regarding the roll-out of a specific grant for families who buy vacant property, Mr. O’Brien said: “I will be offering, within the framework of Croí Cónaithe Towns and Villages, a grant for people who wish to buy a house for live there – this is obviously a used house, and some of them are older houses – and offer a grant to help them fit out that house as long as they live there.
“It has never been done at this level before.”
While full details of the program, which are to be announced in the first quarter of 2022, have yet to be finalized, it is understood that those who buy a vacant home will be able to secure funding “in the range of € 20,000 and € 30,000” through their local authority for renovation and other costs, a subsidy equivalent to the existing subsidy to purchase new housing.
Mr O’Brien said a new program was being put in place as it would not have been possible to fit vacant properties under the existing Help To Buy program.
The property is expected to have not been used for a certain period of time and also to be used as the primary residence of those who buy it.
He said the new grant would be a big incentive to bring these homes back to life.
the vacanthomes.ie site, which was developed by Mayo County Council on behalf of the local government sector, provides a portal for individuals to anonymously log possible vacant properties and alert local authorities, who can then contact owners to see if the house can be reused quickly.
Mr O’Brien recently told the Dáil that a total of properties registered on the website nationwide stood at 6,263.
In contrast, the GeoView Directory’s Q4 2020 report, which lists addresses in the state using data from An Post, found 92,251 vacant addresses in Ireland, accounting for 4.6% of all the housing stock.
Figures from the 2016 census showed that there were 183,312 units, excluding vacation homes, vacant statewide that year.
The minister said targets will be set with each local authority, however, there is no centralized data on the exact number of vacant properties across the country.
He added: “The exact parameters of the program would have to be fully agreed upon, but there would be stipulations regarding the age of the property and its length of vacancy.”