Over half in favour of empty homes tax – Peter McVerry Trust
Pat Doyle says tax could yield an extra €20 million per annum to the State
The latest CSO figures show there are 198,000 empty homes, excluding holiday homes in Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images
New research by homeless charity the Peter McVerry Trust has found that 62 per cent of people are in favour of a tax on empty homes.
The latest CSO figures show there are 198,000 empty homes, excluding holiday homes in Ireland.
CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust, Pat Doyle said that putting a tax on empty homes, collected through the existing property tax would yield an extra €20 million per annum to the State.
“The Government is launching at the end of the month an empty homes strategy and what we are saying is that there will be grants to encourage landlords and those who are not using their properties to bring them back. But if they won’t or they are not interested in supporting the State tackle what is a crisis in housing right now we are saying there should be a tax.
“If you turn down the grant and you don’t have a legitimate reason to bring it in and are just sitting on it waiting for property prices to go up then that’s not good enough.
“That (the tax) could bring in about €19 or € 20 million a year and would support the Government’s campaign around granting aid to landlords to bring the properties back.”
Mr Doyle told Newstalk Breakfast that the trust believes there are 13 homes for every homeless person in urban areas.
“If you do the normal, there is around two of them will be in probate, three of them in legal dispute, two of them used for the fair deal scheme where people are using the property because someone is in hospital, that still leaves half of them at moment lying idle while we have a housing crisis.”
Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Damian English said the Government was not be considering a tax on vacant homes at the moment and was more focused on projects like the repair and lease initiative and the national vacant housing reuse strategy to reduce homelessness.
He said a vacant tax levy had been scheduled for 2019 but that it was not a short term solution to the housing crisis.
“We’re very clear that there would be a long lead in time if you went down that road and we actually believe that we can get a better result by putting in place new initiatives to encourage people to bring their houses forward and to make them available.”
Mr English told RTÉ Morning Ireland that the Government had “reactivated 7,000 houses over the last 3-4 years” and had spent over €100 million on bringing vacant properties back into use.
He added that Minister for Housing Simon Coveney had committed to ensuring that the 720 families currently living in commercial hotels would be moved into housing by July. This move from hotels into housing would be made possible through the use of existing housing, refurbishing vacant properties through the repair and lease initiative and the “rapid construction” of new homes.
Asked by Morning Ireland to elaborate on the target of building 1,500 homes through rapid construction, Mr English said 150 were already under construction while 350 more “are in play”.
“We know and our targets, we have the sites secured to achieve about a 1000 additional housing under the rapid construction scheme before the end of this year,” said Mr English.”The increase of supply of housing is the solution here.”
The number of homeless people in Ireland reached a new high of 7,167 in January.
Some 4,760 adults and 2,407 children were homeless in January, a marginal increase of the previous record high of 7,148 reached in December, but a rise of a quarter on the same month last year (5,715).
The situation remains worst in Dublin where 3,247 adults and 2,046 children are homeless.
The number of homeless families in the State declined by 33 in January 2017, but it was still up by a third on that time last year.