Widespread support for new vacant homes tax

A poll undertaken by the Peter McVerry trust has found that 63% of people in Ireland are in favour of a tax on vacant homes

Widespread support for new vacant homes tax

Image: Eamonn Farrell / RollingNews

New research from the Peter McVerry Trust has found that two-thirds of people in Ireland are in favour of a new tax on empty homes.

The homelessness charity believes the tax could prevent landlords from stock-piling property and waiting for its value to rise.

The latest figures show that there are almost 200,000 homes currently lying vacant in Ireland.

The trust’s chief executive Pat Doyle told Newstalk Breakfast the proposed tax would encourage homeowners to either take up existing government grant schemes or place their properties on the market.

“All the stats show that there are a massive amount of empty units around the country,” he said. “At the moment for example, we reckon that there are about 13 [empty] homes for every homeless person [in urban areas].”

“On average 73 homes a week become empty.”

Mr Doyle said that some of the empty homes may be vacant for a reason.

“Two of them will in probate, three of them will be in legal dispute, two of them will be used for the fair deal scheme,” he said.

“But that still leaves half of them empty at the moment - lying idle while we have a housing crisis.”

The charity said the tax could raise €18m a year and fund the renovations of over 440 homes.

Mr Doyle called on the government to include the tax in the government’s new empty homes strategy which is due to be launched at the end of the month.

He said the plan would not affect anyone’s primary dwelling or home and would not apply to building in probate or in the process of renovation - adding that support for the tax will only grow when people see that it only targets those who refuse to bring a property to the market without a legitimate reason.

The Simon Community last week launched their own ten-point plan to tackle homelessness by bringing some of the thousands of empty properties in Ireland back onto the market.

The number of homeless people in Ireland reached another record high in January this year.

Government figures showed there were 7,167 homeless people around the country - including 2,407 children.

The total figure is 25% higher than it was in January 2016 – while the total number of homeless families rose by a third over the same period.