herald

Monday 20 November 2017

Councils publish registers of vacant city properties ... but lists are empty

Act now, said Ciaran Cuffe
Act now, said Ciaran Cuffe

The city council has been accused of obeying the letter of the law to increase the number of homes in Dublin, but not the spirit.

Under legislation introduced in 2015, all councils had until yesterday to create registers of vacant and unused properties that could be used for housing.

Although the city council published its register on time, no properties had been added.

The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act says sites that have been on the register for more than 12 months by the start of 2019 will be hit with an annual 3pc "use it or lose it" tax, based on the value of the property.

The measure is aimed at forcing owners to develop or sell property that has been allowed to sit idle, and is part of the legislative effort to boost the supply of new homes.

However, the Herald found that, although all four of Dublin's councils had published registers, none listed properties.

City councillor Ciaran Cuffe said the council had "complied with the letter but not the spirit" of the law.

He said it was important for councils to complete the register as quickly as possible to encourage landlords to bring sites into use.

Pinch

"The sooner we have addresses on the register, the sooner property owners will feel the pinch," he said.

The former planning and heritage minister of state told the Herald he would write to city council boss Owen Keegan urging him to speed up completion of the register.

The council said 971 sites had been visited by planning inspectors, of which 385 would be placed on the register once the owners have been notified.

They will be contacted in the next three months.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said it had prepared a register, but said it may be some time before it is filled in.

"Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has commenced a comprehensive review of all potential vacant sites within the county and will be engaging with the relevant landowners of these sites in due course," it said in a statement.

Fingal County Council said that it was too soon to publish details of vacant sites.

"As the register was established yesterday, it is not presently populated with any vacant sites."

Dublin South County Council published a similarly worded statement on its website.

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