David McWilliams: A plan to put Ireland’s 200,000 vacant buildings to use

During the most acute housing crisis we have faced, close to 15% of properties are vacant

South Main Street in Cork city was closed this week due to a falling derelict building. Photograph: Cork City Fire Brigade.

South Main Street in Cork city was closed this week due to a falling derelict building. Photograph: Cork City Fire Brigade.

Property owners have a duty of care towards their properties. There is such a thing as an appropriate owner and an inappropriate owner. The appropriate owner looks after their property, makes sure it does not fall into disrepair. Such an owner should be encouraged to maintain the property.

If the property is part of our urban heritage, that encouragement should also be accompanied by an equally firm penalty for dereliction to punish the inappropriate owner. The owner of an historic property is a custodian.

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