There are an estimate 5.1% vacant houses in Ireland , Source: Depositphotos

Local Irish councils to bring vacant housing to market

Local Irish councils to bring vacant housing to market

The government has set aside a 150-million-euro pot, which is supposed to replenish once the properties are resold

On Monday, the Irish government announced the launch of a 150-million-euro vacancy fund, to support local authorities throughout the country. The fund is supposed to allow local councils to purchase vacant properties and resell them for housing.

This was announced by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, and is part of the Vacant Homes Action Plan. According to recent data from the Central Statistics Office Ireland, in 2021 the rate of vacant homes in Dublin was 2.3% compared to 5.1% in the rest of Ireland, relatively low compared to other countries.

A rolling fund  

As Minister O’Brian explained in an official statement, the idea is to create a rolling programme for local authorities to tackle housing vacancy long-term. Essentially, local councils would be able to apply for the fund and propose specific vacant properties to buy.

Then, after the properties are resold, the profits would go back into the fund creating a continuation of the policy. Minister O’Brien pointed out that that would make conducting such a policy at all possible for local authorities which otherwise have to take out loans to tackle vacancy.

The housing market in Ireland

However, this scheme seems to work with the assumption that housing prices are only set to go up, which would no doubt perpetuate the affordable housing crisis in the republic. Currently, prices have reached the 2007/2008 peak, right before the mortgage crash and are only set to continue rising according to the Central Statistics Office.

Moreover, in August 2022, an alarming report claimed that there were only 716 homes to rent in the entire country, singling an absolute crash in supply for the market.

At the same time, if housing prices in Ireland do go down, many local authorities could be left with overvalued real estate, which could undermine the rolling aspect of the fund. According to the Central Statistics Office, in 2021 and 2022, property prices rose by around 9% annually, although that rate slowed down on a month-to-month basis in 2023.



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