Local authorities are failing to enforce derelict site levies and the task should be handed over to Revenue instead, a leading housing campaigner has said.
This week, the CSO published figures revealing there were close to 48,000 homes that were vacant at the time of the 2016 census and were still unoccupied in 2022.
Anti-dereliction activist Frank O'Connor described it as an issue right across the country.
“When we did our study in Cork, we found 700 derelict houses within two kilometres of the city centre,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“At the time, the council was only reporting 95.
“It’s every town, every village, every city in Ireland - it’s a huge issue.”
Mr O'Connor said he believed many of those houses could be brought back into use if the Government made a number of policy changes.
“The big thing for me always is we haven’t got a clear strategy,” he said.
“We need to look at a couple of key elements; one of the things is… we’re not enforcing the derelict site levies yet… They’ve been around since 1990 and so far it’s been the local authorities trying to collect it.
“It hasn’t worked.
“So, for me, it’s time to hand that over to Revenue.
“If we have Revenue enforcing, that’s one way of bringing houses back into use.”
He also described compulsory purchase orders as “too slow” and ineffective.
“We’re seeing properties in a lot of cities and towns taking four or five years to come back into use,” he said.
“So, what we would argue for is compulsory sales and compulsory rental; compulsory sales for long-term derelict properties and compulsory rentals for long-term vacant properties.”
If these policies were changed, Mr O’Connor said he thought it would make a “significant difference” to alleviating the housing crisis.
Main image: A derelict home. Picture by: Alamy.com