Vacant housing levy needed to tackle scandal of empty luxury apartments

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
17 January 2021
  • After 6 months a levy should apply to empty housing units.

  • Speculators artificially trying to inflate rent and housing prices by keeping units off market.

  • Referendum on housing needed to balance rights of tenants and social good with rights of property owners.

With the Business Post revealing today that hundreds of luxury apartments in Dublin lie empty, Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan has called for a levy on housing units that lie vacant for more than six months.

Senator Moynihan said:

“In the midst of a pandemic, and a housing crisis, it is an absolute scandal that hundreds of luxury apartments lie empty across Dublin while thousands of families have no proper home. The Business Post report shows nearly 300 apartments across two luxury developments lie empty.

“What is urgently needed is a levy on empty housing, just like Labour introduced for vacant sites to ensure that properties are put on the market for sale or rent. By holding back units these developers and speculators are also artificially inflating rents and housing prices. We have called for such a tax for many years as it would ensure the more efficient use of properties.

“We have a real problem with affordability but these luxury apartment blocks are allowed to stay empty so that the investors can preserve their capital valuations. Local authorities should be empowered to CPO such empty apartments. In Clancy Quay in Dublin 8 more than 190 units lie empty out of 246 apartments, while in Capital Dock nearly half lie empty.

“Other countries have already acted. Barcelona has moved against empty short term let holiday homes, and apartments that have been vacant for two years through compulsory purchase at half their market rate, and large fines.

“What is tying the hands of councils in Ireland is our restrictive and cautious approach to housing due to conservative interpretations of the Constitution. If there are legal impediments then it’s time to act on the programme for government commitment for a referendum on housing.

“We need to balance the rights of tenants and the broader social good with the rights of property owners. In a deep housing crisis that is now going on for many years, we have hundreds of homes lying empty in our city. It’s not good enough. It’s time to act.”

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