A levy on vacant houses?

 

Sir, – Indications that the Minister for Housing is contemplating the introduction of a levy on vacant housing units represents a welcome development (“Coveney considers levy on vacant houses”, Home News, April 28th).

While it has been speculated that vacant units unused for two years would be targeted, it would likely be more pragmatic to instead focus on units lying vacant for over six months. This would be more in line with how the concept of vacancy is actually determined in Vancouver, where the empty homes tax has recently been introduced. The bylaw (with certain exemptions) imposes the vacancy tax on residential property that is not deemed to be the principal residence of an occupier for over six months in the year, or rented to a tenant or subtenant for at least 30 consecutive days. Focusing on the aspect of non-primary residence is a far easier approach than validating that a housing unit has been vacant for two years from a legal and logistical standpoint.

As such, a call for Vancouver’s methodology to be introduced effectively for the most populous urban local authority areas only would resemble a manifestation of the domestic Non-Principal Private Residence Charge (NPPR) in those areas.

Interestingly, as someone is not considered tax resident in the State provided that less than 183 days is spent here, if the empty homes tax were to be transposed as is, this could lead to a corollary being established whereby those quantified as being non-resident for tax purposes, but with an Irish home, could be automatically subjected to the vacancy tax, since detection of non-residence in a property for more than the six months required (as in Vancouver) could be readily derived. – Yours, etc,

Cllr JOHN KENNEDY,

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

County Council,

Marine Road,

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.