Denis Naughten TD has welcomed the publication of the Government’s Housing for All plan, pointing out that many of his proposals on measures dealing with vacant properties across the country are now included in the new plan.
“There are whole streets in our cities, towns and villages that have not had a football kicked on them in a generation. While the number of homes lying vacant across the country varies between 50-180,000, depending on the source, the fact is that if we can have these occupied – particularly those in our villages – then there is an immediate dividend to both the State and rural Ireland,” stated Denis Naughten.
“Over the last number of years while all of the experts and public commentary has been focused only on new housing builds, I had continually highlighted the fact that we have many existing vacant family homes, close to schools and services including 1,000mbps broadband outside the door.
“While there is no doubt we must build more homes, right now we should look to our existing 1.75m houses across the country and see how we can ensure that as many of these as possible are occupied, particularly those in our towns and villages.
“Thankfully Minister Darragh O’Brien and the Government have taken on board my suggestions and a whole section of the new Housing for All strategy is focused on how we can bring families back into empty houses across the country.”
Denis Naughten added: “Government is also to bring forward a new law later this year to implement my proposal to ensure that older people who rent out their home when the go into long term nursing home care will not be penalised.
“In addition, the Government will establish a Croí Cónaithe Fund which will allow Councils to provide a grant to support the refurbishment of vacant properties in our towns and villages as well as the being able to compulsory purchase vacant properties. This will help to address eyesores in our communities where there are legal issues with ownership.
“Another aspect that I had been pushing with Minister O’Brien was the need to bring families back into town centres ‘above shops’ and this new strategy will introduce planning exemptions for such conversions as well as streamlining of the Protected Structures system.
“The Minister has also included plans to legislate for tenancies of indefinite duration of the kind seen on the continent to allow those who wish to rent, and where they are fully complying with the rental agreement, to know that they cannot be forced out of their property . This is an issue that I have taken up on many occasions with Government and I look forward to working to ensure we have a system that can secure a rental property for tenants in the long term while ensuring that landlords, particularly those with one or two properties, are protected.
“Overall, I believe that regional Ireland, that is our local towns, villages and rural areas, will benefit from this plan and I welcome the commitment to introduce new Rural Housing Guidelines to give certainty for one-off homes.
“The objective behind the plan is to build 310,000 new homes by 2030 and an end to homelessness and I think that Government, in fairness, has listened to constructive suggestions from all sides and it is in all our interests that it achieves this overall goal,” concluded Denis Naughten.
link to Pathway 4: Pathway to Addressing Vacancy and Efficient Use of Existing Stock