Number of vacant homes in Dublin said to be between 900 and 1,000

Local authorities found average actual vacancy rate about 3% of that indicated by CSO

The number of vacant homes in parts of Dublin has been overstated by more than 30 times the actual total, figures from the Department of Housing show.

The Central Statistics Office said last year it had identified about 30,000 vacant dwellings across the capital's four local authority areas. However, figures from the Department of Housing indicate the true number is likely between 900 and 1,000.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the figures show that vacant properties were not the "low-hanging fruit" officials had once hoped could significantly contribute to solving the housing crisis.

Using reports from Census 2016 enumerators, the CSO said last year there were 183,000 vacant residential properties across the State, of which 30,000 were in Dublin. Commentators and local authority officials subsequently cast doubt on the numbers.


A “scoping exercise” was conducted by three of Dublin’s four local authorities, who provided figures to the department.

Mr Murphy said while the CSO “is not necessarily wrong, they have a different definition of ‘vacant dwelling’ than the man on the street might have”. He said it was now necessary to “work with the CSO to agree a definition of ‘vacant dwelling’.”

In Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown the CSO identified 4,596 vacant dwellings in 2016. The local authority used Geodirectory data provided by An Post and established 2,023 vacant properties. Following a desk-top exercise some 1,545 properties were eliminated as business or retail premises, or new-builds under construction, leaving 478 possible units.

Detailed inspection

“Following further detailed inspection additional properties were eliminated for such reasons as the existence of recent planning permissions, the property being sold, occupied or because of its unsuitable size, location or cost,” a report on the exercise says.

"Dún Laoghaire Rathdown estimates there is a resultant 77 private properties which may possibly be vacant dwellings."

This is about 1.7 per cent of the CSO figure published last year for the area, the report says.

In the South Dublin County Council area the CSO said it had identified 3,495 vacant homes. The local authority targeted one area, Dublin 24, and using Geodirectory data found 599 vacant properties.

“Through a combination of desk-top analysis and ‘drive-by’ visual inspections it was determined a number of properties were tenanted and some new developments under construction had been included. In that targeted area...South Dublin estimate the real vacancy level to be about 56.”

If this pattern was to be replicated throughout the county the likely figure for all of south Co Dublin is estimated at around 250 or 7.1 per cent of the 3,495 identified by the CSO.

Drill into the figures

The CSO found 4,944 vacant dwellings in Fingal. The council, again using Geodirectory data, identified 3,000 vacant properties. A desk-top study to “drill into the figures” identified 361 potentially vacant dwellings.

“Pilot inspections in two areas of the county were carried out, with 74 [of the 361 units] inspected, resulting in 13 units identified as actually vacant.”

This suggests about 64 vacant dwellings across the entire council area, or 1.2 per cent of those identified by the CSO.

These three local authorities found an average actual vacancy rate about 3 per cent of that indicated by the CSO. If applied to the office’s figure for all of Dublin, the true number vacant dwellings in the capital is between 900 and 1,000.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times