Vacant home tax exemptions must be revisited

Ivana Bacik TD
22 November 2023
  • Government still have no vacancy database
  • Local authorities must have greater CPO powers

Labour leader and housing spokesperson Ivana Bacik has said the vacant home tax is an ineffective policy measure.

Government must revisit the vacant home tax exemptions and introduce more effective measures to tackle vacancy.

Deputy Bacik said:

“The figures on the vacant home tax take show that this new measure is only a drop in the ocean when it comes to tackling the scourge of vacancy and dereliction across Ireland. We now learn that only about 3,000 properties will be subject to the vacant home tax, but by any analysis this is way off the true scale of the issue nationwide.

“To have one vacant home in the middle of a housing crisis is outrageous.

“But we know that there are many more than 3,000 vacant homes. Local Property Tax returns indicate that there are 57,206 vacant properties nationwide, and the Census estimates that the number is closer to 166,752, excluding 66,135 seasonal holiday homes.

“So what is going on here? As in many aspects of this Government’s record on housing, the approach to vacancy and dereliction has been abysmal. It has been marked by short-termism – not effective action.

“The vacant homes tax was supposed to encourage people to bring their vacant property back into use, but if only 3,000 of the potentially 166,752 vacant homes are being impacted by this tax, it is a failed policy measure.

“Labour are demanding a review of the exemptions under the tax and to introduce more effective measures to get these empty homes to the people and families who need them.

“To get to grips with the scale of the vacancy and dereliction problem nationwide, a scourge on all our communities, Labour called for an increased Vacant Homes Tax, with a €2,000 minimum charge. We are now urging Government to examine the extensive exemptions list and drive change in the housing market.

“Local authorities must also be given the teeth and funding needed to get to grips with this vacancy crisis.

“Government have no central database for the number of vacant properties nationwide, so how can they ensure that everyone who should be liable for the vacant home tax is declaring themselves?

“If Government collated this data effectively and if an identified property remains empty, then the Vacant Housing Officers in each local authority could be resourced to proceed with CPO proceedings. Each local authority could have targets on returning vacant and derelict properties into use.

“That would truly bring about change for those on the hard end of the housing crisis.”

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