At least 200 empty properties to be bought for social housing this year

First tenants are due to move into newly purchased houses by October

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Some 1,600 vacant houses are to be purchased by the state over the next four years as part of a plan to reduce social housing lists.

The Housing Agency confirmed to that it aims to buy at least 200 houses before the end of this year.

The properties are mainly repossessed buy-to-let properties that are being disposed of by banks or investors to liquidate mortgage assets.

The Housing Agency said previously rented houses in bank portfolios that are in areas of high demand will be prioritised over other options.

The agency was provided with €70 million last month to speed up the acquisition process.

The first tenants are expected to have moved into the properties by October.

Figures published by the agency in May showed there were nearly 230,000 empty homes across the country.