I thank the Minister for taking this Topical Issue today regarding the exemption from local property tax for those people afflicted by pyrite in their homes. It is Government policy, as announced by the Minister for Finance, that home owners who have pyrite-affected homes should be exempt from local property tax. The regulations regarding the exemption from the local property tax are set out in the Finance (Local Property Tax) (Pyrite Exemption) Regulations 2013, SI No. 147 of 2013. This statutory instrument is used by Revenue to either provide the exemption or not and Revenue is following it to the letter, as is required by law.
Revenue is currently issuing letters to home owners all over Fingal and the rest of Leinster stating that if the home owners do not provide a certificate detailing core testing of the sub-floor hardcore material and showing the qualifying significant pyrite percentages that the home owner will not be able to obtain the exemption. Revenue has provided a timeframe of 28 days to comply. As the Minister is aware, the cost for core testing of the sub-floor is in the region of €2,500 to €3,000.
The Pyrite Resolution Board does not require a core test for acceptance into the national remediation scheme. It does not require core testing of the sub-floor hardcore material to verify significant pyritic damage. In the majority of cases a building condition assessment to level 2, in accordance with Irish Standard 398-1:2013 has sufficed. The strict measurement as required by SI 147 of 2013 to demonstrate significant pyritic damage is not required by the PRB to validate applications for the scheme but is required by the Revenue for exemption purposes. To have to spend €3,000 to gain an exemption for a far lower amount is nonsensical. This problem must be resolved. SI 147 needs to be changed to reflect what is happening in practice.
Having examined the text in the statutory instrument it appears a simple edit by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government could resolve the problem quickly. Page 3 of the document I have handed to the Minister begins:
“significant pyritic damage” in respect of a residential property, means a property which—
(a) has a Damage Condition Rating of 2 or a Damage Condition Rating of 1 (with progression) established on foot of a Building Condition Assessment carried out by a competent person under and in accordance with I.S. 398-1:2013, and
(b) has sub-floor hardcore material classified, by the appropriate competent persons, as susceptible to significant or limited expansion, established on foot of testing the sub-floor hardcore material.
Replacing the word "and" at the end of part (a) with "or" would effectively apply the same criteria for "significant pyritic damage" as is applied by the Pyrite Resolution Board for inclusion in the pyrite remediation scheme.
Many houses affected by pyrite are in estates where HomeBond previously did core sampling for certification of pyrite levels. HomeBond stated that it would be cost-prohibitive and wasteful in the extreme to core test each property. Many homes have a building condition assessment in accordance with I.S. 398, detailing a damage condition rating of 2, and have been accepted by the PRB for inclusion in the pyrite remediation scheme. They are in the current schedule of works and a contractor is currently on site. They have not been required to carry out a core test, but because they do not have a core test Revenue is refusing exemption. Any home that is accepted by the PRB into the scheme for remediation obviously has pyrite and should, as a matter of course, be exempt from local property tax. The problem is the wording of the statutory instrument. It needs to be changed urgently. The simple solution I have presented today will do this. It can be done almost overnight because it is secondary legislation. I look forward to a positive response.