Government ponders increasing compulsory purchase powers

Move is part of new strategy on vacant homes which is due to be announced next month

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said  “ideology has nothing to do” with solving the housing crisis, and that all potential solutions will be examined

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said “ideology has nothing to do” with solving the housing crisis, and that all potential solutions will be examined

 

The Attorney General has been asked to examine if new powers of compulsory purchase are needed to help tackle the housing crisis.

Séamus Woulfe is understood to be examining issues around the level of compensation that would be paid in cases of a compulsory purchase order (CPO), as well as the length of time it would take to implement such an order.

The Government is under renewed pressure over homelessness and the housing crisis after figures published this month revealed 7,941 homeless people – 5,046 adults and 2,895 children – were in emergency accommodation in June, a 30 per cent increase on the same time last year.

Those who have been served with a CPO are usually paid compensation based on the market value of their property, and should be left in the same financial position they were in before the CPO process began.

The Constitution provides for the property rights of every citizen, but also says the State may as “occasion requires delimit by law the exercise of the said rights with a view to reconciling their exercise with the exigencies of the common good”.

Common good

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said he has asked Mr Woulfe to see if “extra CPO powers are needed to tip the balance towards the common good”. He said “ideology has nothing to do” with solving the housing crisis, and that all potential solutions will be examined.

The move is part of the new strategy on vacant homes that is due to be announced by the Government next month. Mr Murphy has asked Mr Woulfe to assess if the existing CPO powers need to be supplemented.

Sources said it does not necessarily mean that there would be a dramatic increase in the use of CPOs. Instead, it is believed that the threat of a CPO, particularly in circumstances in which permission for an order could be more easily granted, would encourage those who own such properties or land to sell quickly.

The vacant housing strategy is expected to contain a number of incentives to encourage people to develop vacant units, as well as measures that will penalise those who do not.

A vacant homes levy is also under consideration, and is expected to be included in Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe’s October budget.

Mr Murphy has also reiterated a number of actions his department is taking to “quickly progress” vacant homes back into use.

Carrot and stick

“As I’ve said before, there’s going to be a carrot and stick approach to this, which will be finalised in the coming month or so. People with property interests need to be made aware that we are moving quickly on this.”

The Minister has also asked that the four Dublin councils, as well as the city councils in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford bring forward plans to tackle vacant homes in their areas by the end of October.

All other councils have until the end of the year to complete the plan that will identify properties than can be quickly brought back into use. A special unit will also be established within the Department of Housing to co-ordinate work on the issue.

Proposals from Independent Clare TD Dr Michael Harty on a rural resettlement scheme have also been examined.