Unpaid levies of almost €6.8 million are owed to Dublin City Council from the owners of more than 100 derelict properties, new figures show.
More than 400 properties around the city are now under assessment by the city council for inclusion on the derelict sites register. The register currently includes 107 sites and buildings which “give out the impression of an area deteriorating, are a magnet for antisocial behaviour, and take valuable housing stock out of circulation”, the council said.
More than 12,000 homes and commercial properties are vacant across Dublin, with 40 per cent empty for more than four years – putting them at significant risk of dereliction, a new analysis of data by The Irish Times revealed on Saturday.
The levy was introduced under legislation in 1990 and while the Act refers to “sites” most of the properties on the council’s register are dilapidated buildings, including several protected structures, and houses in some of the most expensive suburbs of the city, including Ranelagh and Rathmines.
The levy is charged at 7 per cent of the market value of the property, with interest charged on unpaid levies at a rate of 1.25 per cent per month. A “site” can qualify for inclusion on the register if it has structures which are “in a ruinous, derelict or dangerous condition”, a “neglected, unsightly or objectionable condition” or, less frequently, if there is a build-up of waste on site.
The council is owed outstanding levies of €6,793,079, but received a significant boost this year with €919,939 paid to date, up from €490,029 for the whole of last year, €417,447 in 2021 and, €402,344 in 2020.
The council said it “has no control on who pays when, as each year differs”. It said levies are based on the market value entered on the register and “there were a number of significant payments made in the last year which account for the increase”.
However, the levies frequently remain unpaid until a property is sold, indicating that previously derelict properties may be being brought back into use.
“If and when a derelict site with a charge is subject to a sale, purchasers will require vendors to have the charge removed as part of the conveyance process. The city council has received a number of levy payments as a result of sales in recent years.”
Since 2017 the council has had an “acquisition strategy” to purchase key derelict properties for residential use and has to date bought 42 properties that were on the register.
“The city council will only acquire compulsorily as a last resort in circumstances where all efforts to secure the carrying out of improvement works by property owners have been exhausted. In determining what sites to acquire the city council prioritises those properties which can be most readily reinstated to active residential use,” it said.
The council will “work with owners and afford every opportunity to them to resolve matters”, it said.
“It is not the case that all owners of derelict sites willingly let their properties become derelict. Dereliction arises in the majority of cases in our experience where there are title difficulties, probate issues, owners with personal difficulties, lack of finances, companies in liquidation etc.
“The entry of a site on the register does not mean an end to the problem. Sites can, and do, remain on the register for quite some time despite the imposition of a levy and interest. Properties remaining on the register will continue to deteriorate as inevitably long term derelict sites attract vandalism and anti-social behaviour. High profile properties remaining on the register is another factor in terms of public disquiet.”