My speech on the new report by the National Oversight and Audit Commission

I was struck by the new report released by the National Oversight and Audit Commission, released today which found that less than half i.e only 15 out of 31 local authorities have ever carried out a condition survey of their social housing stock.

The Study also revealed that 4,200 housing units vacant were vacant in autumn 2015 and more than 13% of these had been empty for longer than three years.

This is completely unacceptable in light of the housing crisis and chronic shortage of rental accommodation – especially in the Dublin where a study by Daft revealed the price of rental property in Dublin has gone up by 40% – whilst availability has gone down by 80%.

Whilst I commend the inclusion in the Budget to increase the tax-free allowance incentives for homeowners to rent out a room in their house to €14,000 per annum and Minister Coveney’s action plan for housing which will provide 47,000 units of social housing – I believe even more can be done.

The Peter McVerry Trust estimate that there are 198,000 vacant homes in total in Ireland.

I have previously called for a tax on empty homes to incentivise private owners of vacant homes to do the necessary renovations and rent out these properties. In Canada this has already been introduced with Vancouver City Council approving a tax on empty homes.

It is my understanding that under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015- a similar vacant site levy is to be introduced next year and that it will be up to the local authorities in each area to identify these vacant homes/sites . However, due to the extent of the housing shortage I am calling for this levy to be fast- tracked as a matter of priority!



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