- Poor use of statutory powers despite 12.3% national vacancy rate-
“We need to get to the root of why local authorities are failing to make use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) for vacant housing,” said Fianna Fáil’s Housing Spokesperson Darragh O’Brien as new data identified just 277 CPO attempts in the past seven years across the State.
Fianna Fáil submitted FOI requests to each city and county council covering the use of CPO and Derelict Sites Act acquisitions.
“Major inadequacies have been identified with the use of these statutory provisions by local authorities. With just 227 CPO attempts were made, at an overall cost of €2.6 million, questions needs to be asked as to why the CPO attempt rate is so low when the number of vacant units in the State is so high.
“According to Census 2016 data, there was a national vacancy rate of 12.3% with some 184,000 vacant properties, including 30,000 in Dublin, across Ireland. Other cities, such as Cork, Galway and Limerick, had just fewer than 15,000 vacant units between them. A report by Indecon released last month recommended a major programme of CPOs to tackle vacancy rates rather than a Vacant Property Tax.
“We need to get to grips with the housing crisis by building more units and getting the most out of the existing housing stock. That’s a given. However, the poor usage by local authorities of their CPO powers compared to the high vacancy rates across our cities just doesn’t make sense.
“The net result is thousands of homes, suitable for housing families, are being left empty. The low numbers clearly indicate that there are serious barriers to our county and city council using their CPO powers to tackle the housing crisis.
“A far more ambitious approach to addressing the high vacancy rates is needed from our local authorities, and especially our city councils. The failure to utilise CPOs to acquire units that are being neglected is compounding the housing crisis.
“The Government has an important role in signalling to Councils and owners of long term vacant properties that, unless they bring them back into use themselves, they will be used for housing purposes. A practical step would be for the Government to incentivise local authorities to acquire vacant properties and resell them by covering conveyancing and other costs incurred by local authorities in the process of acquiring and reselling the properties.
“In addition the Department should clarify with all local authorities their statutory powers to acquire vacant properties for social and affordable housing purposes. This will not solve our housing crisis but it should form part of our overall efforts to get more homes on the market and for social housing, concluded O’Brien.