Leitrim: a county where one in four houses lie empty

Once a hotspot for holiday homes and section 23 properties, Leitrim county now has lowest occupancy rate in the State at 70%

Shannon cruisers at Leitrim village. County Leitrim has the fourth largest concentration of holiday homes in the State  at 9%. Photograph: James Connolly

Shannon cruisers at Leitrim village. County Leitrim has the fourth largest concentration of holiday homes in the State at 9%. Photograph: James Connolly

 

More than one out of every four houses is unoccupied in Leitrim, new figures released on Monday show.

A high concentration of holiday homes and vacant properties mean that vast tracts of the housing supply in the county lie empty. And many of these may never be used, the authors of a new report suggest.

The figures come against a background of a particularly tight housing market and rising house prices in other parts of the State.

The inland county was a popular location for the development of section 23 properties, which allowed landlords to shelter their rental income, and holiday homes in the run-up to the crash, with clusters of developments around the Shannon in towns like Carrick-on-Shannon.

Now, according to figures prepared by GeoDirectory in its GeoView Residential Buildings Report, many of them lie empty, with the occupancy rate near 70 per cent.

Leitrim has the fourth largest concentration of holiday homes in Ireland at 9 per cent or 1,589 in total, behind Donegal (13 per cent), Kerry (11 per cent) and Wexford (10 per cent). The county also has 3,786 vacant properties. As the report notes, Leitrim “has a substantial oversupply of housing stock, much of which may never be used”.

Other counties with particularly high vacancy rates are Roscommon (18 per cent or 5,658 properties) and Mayo (17 per cent or 11,180 properties).

Leitrim saw the third lowest volume of property sales in 2016, with just 332 properties sold at an average price of €89,458. The lowest volume was in Monaghan, where 256 properties were sold for an average price of € 123,438, the survey shows.

Leitrim also had the lowest number of new builds anywhere in the country in 2016, with work starting on just 19 properties last year, compared with 3,343 in Dublin.

Leitrim also had one of the lowest rates of population growth between 2011 and 2016 – it only increased 0.5 per cent between 2011 and 2016 or by 174 people.