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.”
“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.
"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:
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.