Vacant council flats and houses to be renovated with €15m fund
Minster Jan O’Sullivan announces plan to bring 952 empty units back into use this year
The launch of the project at the Maxwell Court flat complex in Rathmines, Dublin, yesterday: Maxwell court resident Tom Singleton, Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn, Minister for Housing and Planning Jan O’Sullivan; Amy (7) and Tom (9) Boran, from Co Meath; Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, TD; MEP Emer Costello and Councillor Mary Freehill. Photograph: Dave Meehans
Vacant local authority flats and houses, some of which have been empty for years, are to be renovated under a €15 million scheme.
Some 952 long-term “voids” or vacant properties, out of a total of just over 1,900, will be brought back into use this year through a fund announced by Minister of State for housing Jan O’Sullivan yesterday.
The largest number of these long-term voids are in Dublin city, where 470 flats and houses have been left vacant because the city council cannot afford extensive renovations.
Dublin City Council has been allocated more than one-fifth of the total fund – €3,288,000 – to bring 135 of its vacant units back into use.
Its neighbouring local authority Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown is to receive the least – €30,000 – to renovate just one property, while Fingal is getting the second highest amount – €1,259,000 – to bring 95 properties into use.
Ms O’Sullivan said the allocations were based on applications received by local authorities. “The criteria for applying was that these were houses that could be brought back into use, and the work was achievable this year, but was not within the current resources of the local authority.”
The houses and flats in question were ones which required substantial work to make them usable. The average cost of refurbishment in Dublin city was €24,355 per unit.
“These are units that have been left empty for a substantial length of time and require significant work. For the majority of empty units the local authority is expected to undertake the maintenance needed from its own resources.”
With almost 90,000 applicants on housing waiting lists nationally, there was “significant pressure on social housing supply”, Ms O’Sullivan said, which this fund would go some way to addressing.
“I am determined that no suitable homes will be left empty when there are families in need of housing. Vacant local authority houses, many of which are boarded up, are intolerable. They should be providing a home for a family and rental income for the local authority. ”
Long-term vacant houses were also a focal point for antisocial behaviour or litter in an area, she said. “This funding will transform vacant housing units that have blighted some communities for years.”
Local authorities need to do more to stop properties from falling into a condition where they needed such extensive and costly repairs, she said.
“In addition to providing funding we also need to examine management practice in local authorities so that we avoid the build-up of long-term vacant units. There can be a great disparity between local authorities in the time it takes for them to reallocate housing or the number of long-term vacant units they have.”
She said she would be meeting directors of housing across all local authorities in the coming weeks in relation to this issue.