49 weeks for Cork City Council to re-let vacant social housing units last year

The national average time taken to fill a vacant property was 27.75 weeks in 2018.

49 weeks for Cork City Council to re-let vacant social housing units last year

It took an average of 49 weeks for Cork City Council to re-let a vacant social housing unit in 2018, the longest of any of the country's urban councils and the fifth longest of all local authorities in the country.

The national average time taken to fill a vacant property was 27.75 weeks in 2018.

The figures were revealed in the annual report from the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC), the independent watchdog of local government here. In a comprehensive, 100-page report, NOAC assesses the performance of all local authorities in a range of areas, including housing and roads maintenance, job creation and social media engagement.

The report identifies the length of time it takes to re-let a property as an issue. It praises councils for their efforts in reducing the number of vacant properties.

According to NOAC, in 2018 the national average re-letting time from the date that a tenant vacates a property until the date of the first rent payment by a new tenant was 27.75 weeks.

For Cork City Council, it took 49 weeks on average, leaving it significantly behind the other urban authorities. In Dublin City, the time is 16.79 weeks, while in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, it is just 12.29 weeks.

Galway City also fares poorly, taking an average of 44 weeks per unit.

Re-letting times vary nationally from 8.06 weeks in Westmeath to 71.39 weeks in Cavan. Longford recorded the largest increase in the average re-letting time from 11.87 weeks in 2017 to 70.64 weeks in 2018.

Brian Geaney, head of housing at Cork City Council, defended its record, noting that it has made significant improvements in the time it takes to re-let a property.

The 2018 figure is a reduction of almost 20% from 2017 which was a reduction of over 40% from 2016, he said.

At the end of 2018, Cork City Council had a stock of 8,978 houses, of which 3.51% were vacant.

"Significant progress is being made and there is a need to review the categorisation of vacants in order to differentiate between vacants available for repair and those vacants that are not," Mr Geaney said.

"There are vacants that for various reasons, i.e. legal reasons, cannot be returned and therefore impact on the average re-letting time when those properties do eventually become available for return.

"Housing stock varies in age, type, density and tenancy across all local authorities, therefore it’s difficult to compare one local authority with another. Cork City’s stock (at the time of the NOAC return) is characterised by almost 60% of properties being greater than 30 years old, over 40% 40yrs old and just under 25% over 50yrs old."

The report also confirms that the average re-letting cost increased for 16 local authorities.

The cost of re-tenanting a property nationally varied from €6,414.29 in Laois to €30,312.50 in Co Meath. Cork City spent an average of €9.295.32 per unit, a significant drop from the €27,489.35 spent in 2017.

Six local authorities spent more than €20,000 on average in re-tenanting a property, with just Meath breaching the €30,000 mark.

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