The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides the legislative basis for the household charge. Under the Act, an owner of a residential property on the liability date of 1 January 2012 is liable to pay the household charge, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver.
Section 4(4)(b) and section 4(6) of the Act provide that a waiver from the charge applies in 2012 and 2013 to properties in certain unfinished housing estates specified in a list prescribed by the Minister. As part of the process of preparing the National Housing Development Survey 2011, published by my Department in October 2011, local authorities provided details of all unfinished housing developments in their areas. Unfinished housing developments were divided into four categories as follows:
- Category one, where the development is still being actively completed by the developer, or where no serious public safety issues exist;
- Category two, where a receiver has been appointed;
- Category three, where a receiver has not been appointed and the developer is still in place but effectively inactive; and
- Category four, where the development has been effectively abandoned and is posing serious problems for residents.
Only households in developments in categories three and four are eligible for the waiver from payment of the household charge. The development in question was categorised by Sligo County Council as a Category 1 development and as such was not eligible for a waiver from the household charge. The list of developments in which households are eligible for the waiver is set out under the Local Government (Household Charge)(Amendment) Regulations 2013.