Time to remove “demand test” from Government’s refurbishment scheme
The construction industry will tell Government it must do far more to bring vacant property back into use when it meets with Minister Darragh O’Brien later today to discuss the current housing emergency, says Denis Naughten TD.
“This is the very point that I have been making for some years,” stated Denis Naughten. “There are a number of crazy barriers that Government has created which compound the immoral situation where there are 90,000 empty homes across the country in the middle of a housing crisis.
“For example, while County Councils are being instructed by Government to pay between €1,120 and 1,470 per week for hotel rooms to accommodate Ukrainian refugees, they are precluded from repairing and leasing vacant homes unless they have families on the social housing list in that particular community.
“Councils won’t utilise the Repair and Leasing Scheme to bring vacant properties in need of repair back into use for social housing because the Council has to show that there is a social housing demand in the area before they can refurbish vacant homes, the perennial chicken and egg scenario.
“I have no doubt that if a home is refurbished and available for a fixed rent for five years, if someone on the social housing list doesn’t avail of it there are plenty of people renting privately in our towns and cities who would jump at the opportunity.”
Denis Naughten added: “Having a family relocate from our cities where housing is in high demand releases a house for a homeless family on the social housing list. In many instances these vacant homes have access to fibre broadband and are close to schools struggling to maintain numbers to retain teachers.
“A further example is the bizarre treble tax which an older person in long term nursing home care will face if the wish to rent out their vacant home to a family in need of housing. The way the Fair Deal scheme is structured at present means the older person not only pays 7.5% of the capital value of their home to meet their nursing home charges but they also separately pay 80% and 7.5% of the rental income generated towards their long-term care.
“As a result, even though up to 4,500 people leave behind an empty home when they enter long-term nursing home care, just 400 of these homes are rented out. Reforming the Scheme to remove the financial barrier against renting the property would immediately release vacant family homes across our cities, towns, and rural areas.
“Finally, while Government is willing to spend an average of €31,000 to provide roads, water, and wastewater services to allow for the development of private lands in our cities, which will ultimately deliver homes we hope in two or three years time, it has yet to provide any financial support to open up vacant homes across the country that could release family housing in just two to three months.
“In this country we are always just one report away from making a decision, but as our housing emergency is now going beyond breaking point, we urgently need decisive action to throw open vacant houses to those without a permanent roof to call home,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Denis raised this issue in the Dáil last week, see more at: https://denisnaughten.ie/2022/04/07/just-1-in-90-vacant-homes-available-to-rent-in-the-middle-of-housing-emergency-naughten/