– I welcome the announcement of €32m for the national roll-out of the Repair and Leasing Scheme for vacant houses –

Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Declan Breathnach says the Government needs to focus its efforts on increasing the supply of accommodation to help tackle the housing crisis.  Deputy Breathnach believes the implementation of the Repair and Leasing Scheme for vacant houses will help achieve this.

“I welcome Minister Simon Coveney’s announcement yesterday (23 February, 2017) that the pilot scheme that targets vacant properties and secures them for social housing, by financing the cost of repairs, is to be rolled out on a national basis.  An additional €26m is being provided to fund the scheme in 2017 which brings the total amount of investment available this year to €32m.  This additional funding will mean that up to 800 vacant properties can be brought back into use as new homes for families on local authority waiting lists.

“The Government has been far too slow to respond to the housing crisis to date despite having a number of options available for some time, including the refurbishment of vacant units.”

“The Minister needs to show a strong commitment to implementing meaningful policies that will impact the dysfunctional housing market.  The priority must be focused on returning vacant spaces back into use as accommodation,” said Deputy Breathnach.

“Data from the 2016 Census shows that there are almost 260,000 homes vacant right across the country.  This represents 15% of the total housing stock which demonstrates the sheer dysfunctionality of our housing market.  There are 5,000 vacant units in Louth alone.

“I have long held the view that we need to do much more to help bring vacant units back into the accommodation market.  In January 1992 and again in 2015 I, along with Councillor Peter Savage, brought a motion to Louth County Council to help achieve this.  The plan involved financing the refurbishment of vacant units to a habitable condition which would cost far less than the construction of new units, exactly the scheme that the Minister has announced this week”.

“The Minister has said that property owners can see the opportunity the scheme presents for them – upfront financing of the cost of repairs – in fact they need not even get involved in arranging the works, and they are guaranteed a secure and reliable income from regular rental payments, without having to take on landlord responsibilities.”

“Property owners interested in the scheme should contact their local authority directly and register their interest.”

-Ends-

Johanna Walsh, Office of Declan Breathnach T.D., Leinster House, Dublin 2

(T) 01 6183549 (Email)  declan.breathnach@oireachtas.ie