By Sean O’Riordan
More than 20 families have been forced to pay local property tax (LPT) for the past five years due to an administrative oversight which should have excluded them because they live in an unfinished estate.
Residents at Gort na hAbainn estate in Milford, north Co Cork, have been living in what has been described as “deplorable conditions”.
The estate was left unfinished 10 years ago, but the residents have still had to pay an annual LPT of €225 for houses valued between €100,001 and €150,000.
Some houses were left unfinished, the estate still has no public lighting and the road surface was never properly completed.
“It was a miracle that nobody fell into them and was seriously injured,” said Fine Gael councillor John Paul O’Shea.
At a recent county council meeting, Mr O’Shea sought information as to why locals were still having to pay LPT when they had to put up with such poor infrastructure.
Exemption from LPT is set out in the Finance (LPT) Act 2012 and estates which qualified were listed in the schedule of the regulations issued the following year.
This list was developed on the 2012 National Housing Development Survey, which should have highlighted the situation at the Gort na hAbainn estate.
Mr O’Shea was told by council officials that, in February 2012, the Department of Environment wrote to all local authorities informing them that a LPT exemption would apply to estates with “seriously problematic conditions”.
Gort na hAbainn would have qualified under this, but was never added to the list.
“The department complied this list six years ago and asked local authorities to add or delete estates..“I was shocked to see that this list did not include this estate and have asked that we write to the department to have the estate included in the expeditions and LPT payments made by the householders to be refunded to them.”
Mr O’Shea said that he had been working for more than a year to try and get a bond paid over to the council from a financial institution to complete the work there.
Bonds, which are a form of insurance, were paid by developers to ensure that estates were finished if they went out of business.