Census 2016: More than 259,000 vacant homes in State

CSO figures show number of empty Dublin holiday properties ‘up 190% in five years’

Preliminary figures published by the Central Statistics Office on July 14th show the total population is now 4,757,976.


The number of vacant holiday homes in Dublin city centre has nearly trebled in five years.

Publishing preliminary statistics from the April 24th census, the CSO said there had been a “noticeable increase”, up from 322 in 2011 to 937 this year – an increase of 190 per cent.

The housing crisis in some parts of the State appears to have manifested itself in the census, with figures showing the number of vacant dwellings has fallen by 29,889 (13.8 per cent).

In total, there are 259,562 vacant homes, including 61,204 vacant holiday homes, up 1,809 (3 per cent) on the last census.

Vacancy rates for housing vary widely by county but the overall rate stands at 12.8 per cent.

Carlow experienced the largest fall in the number of vacant dwellings from 3,202 in 2011 to 2,417 in this year’s census - a drop of 26.9 per cent.

In Leitrim, the county with the highest vacancy rate in 2011, the number of vacant homes fell by just 3.7 per cent.

Donegal, where the vacancy rate was 28.4 per cent five years ago, has seen the number of vacant dwellings fall by just 97 units or less than 1 per cent, the CSO said. This brings the vacancy rate to 28.2 per cent.

The census provided information on the number of vacant dwellings for the first time in 2006 and the results showed there were 266,322 vacant dwellings (including holiday homes) in Ireland at that time, with a vacancy rate of 15 per cent.

Vacancy rate

By 2011 the number of vacant dwellings had increased by 23,129 to 289,451, while the overall vacancy rate (14.4 per cent) had fallen.

According to the 2016 preliminary census figures, household formation has fallen behind population growth and household sizes are also getting bigger in urban areas, bucking the trend of previous censuses. In rural areas, household sizes are getting smaller, the CSO’s statisticians said.

The number of occupied households increased between 2011 and 2016 by just over 49,000, or 3 per cent.

Asked how the CSO identified housing as vacant, senior statistician Deirdre Cullen said the 4,663 enumerators were provided with very detailed notes.

“It’s vitally important that we get it right,” she said.

Enumerators were instructed to call to every dwelling four, five, six and even seven times.

“They call several times, they talk to neighbours.”

If the house was vacant, neighbours might identify it as a holiday home or a property that was just visited at weekends. Overgrown gardens, for sale signs and an absence of post were also indicators a home was vacant.

“It’s really just on-the-ground knowledge by talking to people,” Ms Cullen said.

Airbnb, which allows people book short-term stays in homes of their choice around the world, insisted earlier this year that its services were not taking housing off the market.

Figures from the Airbnb website back in March showed the number of properties available to rent in Dublin for short-term holidays exceeded the number available for long-term letting.

At that point there were 1,748 apartments or houses available for holiday lettings on the site.