Homeless charity gives cautious welcome to Minister's plan to tackle empty houses

Update 12.07pm: The national housing and homeless charity, Peter McVerry Trust, has welcomed measures announced by Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, to tackle empty homes in Ireland.

The charity said a number of its key recommendations on empty homes had been taken on board by Government.

Reacting to today’s announcement Pat Doyle, CEO at Peter McVerry Trust, said: “The measures announced today by Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, are welcome and important in tackling the huge levels of empty homes. We have campaigned on this issue for the last three years and we are delighted that progress is finally being made.”

Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust.
Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust.

“The measures announced today include a series of proposals from Peter McVerry Trust around the creation of a national empty homes unit, the appointment of empty homes officers in each local authority area and a national empty homes database.”

Mr Doyle said that urgency remained a critical element of the response to the housing and homelessness crisis. “We know that every house delivered, be it re-using old houses or building new ones, will take time and that is why it is absolutely critical that we must all operate with a sense of urgency at every stage of the process until we get people into their homes.”

Mr Doyle said that Budget 2018 would now be critical in determining how successful the Government response to the empty homes issue would be. “A number of critical elements have been delayed until Budget day including details of an empty homes tax, measures to allow fair deal participants to rent their properties without penalty and capital funding for local authorities to carry out major Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) campaigns.”

Update 9.20am: The Housing Minister says people should face penalties for failing to bring vacant houses into use.

Eoghan Murphy is looking at a number of measures to deal with the housing crisis.

One option is to encourage elderly people living in nursing homes to become landlords and rent out their property.

Homeless charity gives cautious welcome to Minister's plan to tackle empty houses

"We have to respect property rights but we've also got to recognise the public interest that is here," he said.

"We've a crisis when it comes to homelessness and housing and where property is vacant, where it is falling into dereliction, at a time of crisis, we believe that's unacceptable."

Earlier:New laws to use over-the-shop premises as residences, to set up a special empty-homes unit, and to appoint dedicated officers to progress ‘vacant hot-spot’ areas are among plans to improve housing, writes Juno McEnroe.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy says the moves will dovetail with a ‘carrot’ approach to filling empty units, under budget plans.

Measures to utilise Ireland’s 189,000 empty homes are proceeding, ahead of a new vacant-homes strategy to be unveiled next month.

There are growing calls for the housing crisis to be declared a national emergency. Housing Agency CEO John O’Connor also says the crisis will lead to a “lost generation” and hundreds of “hollowed-out communities” in the coming decades.

Mr Murphy today announces several key actions to utilise vacant housing stock. These include:

  • A dedicated empty-homes unit in his department to coordinate actions at central government and to support local authorities;
  • The appointment of vacant-homes officers to examine Census data on homes and to prioritise “vacant hot-spot” areas for use;
  • A website to log vacant homes. Users can alert authorities on vacanthomes.ie;
  • Faster maintenance and upgrading of properties and faster turnaround of vacant social housing stock, including quicker identification of new tenants;
  • The quick enactment of exemptions to allow vacant commercial units and over-the-shop premises to be used as residences without planning permission;
  • Adjustment of terms in the Fair Deal nursing home scheme to encourage greater use of vacant properties for those in nursing homes.
  • Mr Murphy also hinted that owners could face penalties for not utilising vacant stock. He previously told the Irish Examiner these penalties would be part of October’s budget.

    “As I’ve said before, there’s going to be a carrot-and-stick approach to this, which will be finalised in the coming month or so,” he said. “People with property interests need to be made aware that we are moving quickly on this.”

    This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.


More in this Section

Teenage victim of paedophile ring packed knife to confront sex offender over unwanted advances, court hearsTeenage victim of paedophile ring packed knife to confront sex offender over unwanted advances, court hears

Environmental group wins landmark case over large-scale peat extractionEnvironmental group wins landmark case over large-scale peat extraction

Quinn staff 'demand an end to this reign of terror' following attack on executive Quinn staff 'demand an end to this reign of terror' following attack on executive

Families moving back into their homes after Dublin flats fireFamilies moving back into their homes after Dublin flats fire


Lifestyle

My seven-year-old stood tall, whispered “bravery” to herself and stepped into the pitch-black dungeon. I stood there and watched her disappear.Learner Dad: I hate nostalgia, I think it’s mawkish and sentimental

Dr Phil Kieran says head lice is incredibly common among school children and offers practical advice on how to remove the crawlers with easy treatments.Tackling head lice: Easy treatments to remove itchy creepers

Gráinne Healy only started running regularly a few years ago. She’s already completed 50 parkruns. She tells Rowena Walsh what motivates her.Ageing with Attitude: Parkruns and quiet Friday nights

Against popular wisdom and flying a plane made from bamboo, wire and bike handlebars, a Co Antrim woman blazed a sky trail for aviation and for the independence of women, writes Bette BrowneMagnificent Lilian Bland blazed a trail for independence of women in her plane of bamboo

More From The Irish Examiner