End to Dublin’s rates rebate sends message that empty buildings aren’t acceptable, councillor says

Change to rules for vacant or derelict buildings will net €1.5m for community services

A decision by Dublin City Council to drop commercial rates relief on vacant or derelict buildings will have a “more symbolic” than dramatic impact, the councillor behind the move has said.

Southwest Inner City councillor Michael Pidgeon successfully sought a change to the city council’s budget for next year, dropping the rebate from 15 per cent to zero. The rebate was set at 50 per cent three years ago, but councillors first lowered it to 35 per cent and then voted 53 to six to abolish the relief altogether this week.

The move is expected to save the council €1.5 million per year, which will be redistributed to supporting community projects across the city.

Mr Pidgeon said the basic thinking behind the rebate had “probably been that if there was no income from commercial property, then it seemed fair to reduce the rates”.


He said he was aware of commercial buildings for which landlords claimed they could not get a tenant for five years or more. “But they should apply to change the designation from commercial to residential or sell them on so that someone else can make use of them,” he said.

He said in a bustling city where property was at a premium there was no justification for continuing to “offer a tax incentive for keeping buildings vacant”. Tax incentives, he said should be “going the other way” and “penalising those who keep buildings empty”.

The change affects commercial buildings, only a small number of which might be designated for accommodation, such as guest houses. The change will not affect apartment blocks or private houses and Mr Pidgeon said he accepts it would not have a dramatic effect on housing in the city. Nor would it be appropriate in many rural towns, he said.

“But in Dublin it is a symbolic change – it sends a signal that in a city as busy as Dublin is, it is no longer acceptable to have buildings empty. Those holding such buildings should change designation or get off the pot” he said.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist