Murphy and English have allowed accountability to fall by the wayside on social housing

22 October 2018

Labour Housing Spokesperson for Housing, Jan O’Sullivan has criticised some local councils, and the Department of Housing, following revelations that there are 3,600 vacant council properties currently available and not being used.

Speaking today Deputy O’Sullivan said: 

“The fact that there are 3,600 homes in public ownership lying vacant is totally unacceptable. Minister Murphy and the Department as a whole have to take control of this situation. While public homes are in the ownership of local councils, it is the Department who have to hold them to account. 

“We were told that there were Vacant Homes Officers going to be appointed in every Council who are tasked with identifying the vacant private property in their rates. That seems more than a little bit hypocritical when Councils clearly need to be dedicated vacant property officers for their own public housing lists.

“While the gap between the best and worst performing councils is large, no council should be allowed leave property vacant for any prolonged period of time, while there are nearly 10,000 people homeless including close to 4,000 children. While I was Minister for Housing, we started to bring homes back in to use through our Void Scheme which had a clear line of accountability. We knew when each Council received money to renovate a property that it was followed up with to ensure those houses were delivered. 

“It seems as though Ministers Murphy and English have allowed accountability to fall by the wayside. I cannot imagine how upsetting and frustrating it must feel for a family starting another week in emergency accommodation, possibly having been there for two years already, to read today that there are vacant council houses in their area lying idle.

“As well as it being a major mismanagement of resources in the middle of an extraordinary housing crisis, this kind of carry on is a disincentive for people to sell their homes to councils. The case mentioned in today’s Independent of the homes sold the council in Leixlip which has been let sit empty for two years is disgraceful. Kildare County Council have serious questions to answer on that score. “

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