Darragh O'Brien open to compulsory rental orders on vacant properties

Darragh O'Brien open to compulsory rental orders on vacant properties

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien said he was open to “any reasonable, positive suggestion” that could help end long-term vacancy and dereliction, and provide homes File picture: Denis Minihane

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has said he is open to the possibility of compulsory rental orders to give local authorities the power to acquire certain vacant properties for rent, similar to powers under the compulsory purchase order process.

Mr O’Brien said he is open to “any reasonable, positive suggestion” that can help end long-term vacancy and dereliction, and provide homes.

Darragh O’Brien made his comments as controversy rages over the Croí Conaithe Cities scheme, launched last week, which offers subsidies of up to €144,000 to developers of apartments that have planning permission but have yet to start construction.

The Government says the €500m cities fund, aimed at Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Dublin and Galway, is designed to bridge the construction viability gap and help deliver 5,000 apartments, but critics have branded it a direct subsidy for developers.

Speaking in Cork on Friday, Mr O’Brien said the towns and village element of Croí Conaithe would be launched within weeks.

“Through the local authorities, and funded by my department, will be a grant for people that will help them to do up those homes and to take them into ownership themselves. We’re looking at a figure of up towards €30,000," he said.

And that's important because a lot of people have said to me if I can get, for example, 1 Main Street Bandon that has been empty for two years, and I could get some help to be able to do that up, I’d be able to do it.

“It will be a significant grant to help them do that on the basis that people live in it and that they are owner-occupiers.” 

He also confirmed he was reviewing a raft of regulations to make it easier to renovate and live above commercial premises.

“There are issues with ‘above-shop living’ that no government has cracked in the last number of years and I'm working on that right now to look at what regulations we can amend to make it easier for people to be able to do up above shops,” he said.

Meanwhile, two weeks after dereliction campaigners Frank O’Connor and Jude Sherry claimed they have identified 700 derelict properties within 2km of Cork City centre, the city council says it is “actively working” on a portfolio of 274 sites.

“As we are aware from previous legal proceedings, the declaration of a site as derelict is a legal process and cannot be limited to a visual inspection,” it said.

“The council has incidents of reports of dereliction, where the property would not actually be derelict.

“The council accepts formal submissions of dereliction, and these are included on a list of properties for inspection. The council follows rigorous procedures prior to declaring a property derelict in the interest of due diligence and fair procedures.”

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