Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (517, 576)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

517. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans regarding rates on vacant properties. [22191/14]

View answer

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

576. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding rates on vacant properties. [23392/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 517 and 576 together.

The Local Government Act 1946 provides that where a property in a county council or urban local authority is unoccupied on the date of the making of the rate, the owner becomes liable for rates. However, the owner is entitled to a refund if the property is vacant for specified purposes i.e. if the premises are unoccupied for the purpose of additions, alterations or repairs; where the owner is bona fide unable to obtain a suitable tenant at a reasonable rent; and where the premises are vacant pending redevelopment. The collection of rates and the determination of eligibility for a refund in this context are matters for each individual local authority. At present, the owner is entitled to a 100% refund in most local authority areas. Separate legislation governs refunds in the cities of Dublin, Limerick and Cork, where the same criteria for refunds apply but only 50% of the rates paid is refundable.

The Local Government Reform Act 2014 provides for a change to rating law in relation to the refund of rates on vacant properties and gives discretion to the elected members of individual local authorities to vary the level of rates refunds that apply in individual local electoral areas within the authority’s administrative area. This discretion allows elected members to respond to the differing characteristics of the local commercial property markets. The amendment does not make any change to the eligibility or otherwise of refunds as currently provided for in relevant legislation.

It is expected that this provision will be commenced with effect from 1 June 2014 and I will then issue regulations and guidance in respect of the process for its implementation by local authorities.

Question No. 518 answered with Question No. 504.