Majority favour taxing 198,000 empty houses, says survey - €54m could be raised in Dublin alone

The majority of people now favour taxing the 198,000 houses lying empty across the country, a survey has found.

Majority favour taxing 198,000 empty houses, says survey - €54m could be raised in Dublin alone

Up to €54m could be raised from a vacant homes tax in Dublin alone if the model already used in Vancouver, Canada, is adopted. That much money could renovate more than 1,300 houses a year, according to the Peter McVerry Trust.

Research conducted by the homeless and housing charity, shows that 62% of people are in favour of a tax on vacant homes.

There are 7,167 people in emergency accommodation in Ireland, yet there are around 198,358 empty homes, representing 13% of the housing stock.

The Peter McVerry Trust is now calling on the Government to bring forward legislation to introduce an empty homes tax.

Pat Doyle, the CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, said: “We strongly believe in the merits of an empty homes tax because it will encourage the owners of empty homes to either take up existing grant schemes or place their properties on the market.

“Ultimately, an empty homes tax will result in an increased number of homes to rent, to buy and to be used for social housing,” he said.

Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd has been campaigning for a vacant property tax and last week raised it at a parliamentary party meeting.

He said there are 4,491 vacant homes in Cork City, with only 52 of these holiday homes.

Mr O’Dowd said Cork has a vacancy rate of 8.1%. This compares to a vacancy rate of around 2% in London.

Mr Doyle said there are a number of empty-home tax models in use internationally.

“In the UK it is based on the council tax rates. For example in Scotland, over half the local authorities apply the maximum levy on empty homes meaning the council tax applied to an empty home is double that compared with an occupied home,” he said.

“If we used that, the local property tax in Ireland bands as basis for taxing empty homes, and applied a 100% levy on empty homes we estimate that in Dublin such a tax could raise almost €18m per year and if ringfenced would fund the renovations of over 440 homes per year.”

“The Vancouver model, which applies a tax on empty homes of 1% of the property’s value, would generate almost €54m per year in Dublin and fund the renovation works of 1,300 properties each year,” he said.

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