Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1591)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1591. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position in relation to amounts outstanding on the non-principal private residence charge; the amount outstanding; the amount collected in recent years; the penalties collected; if the outstanding liability is now capped; if there are extenuating circumstances in which the liability may be reduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19943/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, provided the legislative basis for the Non-Principal Private Residence (NPPR) charge. The NPPR charge applied in the years 2009 to 2013 to any residential property in which the owner did not reside as their normal place of residence. The self-assessed charge was set at €200 per annum and liability for it falls, in the main, on owners of rental, holiday and vacant properties. It is a matter for an owner to determine if he or she has a liability and, if so, to declare that liability and pay the charge and any late payment fees applicable. Under the Act, it is a function of a local authority to collect NPPR charges and late payment fees due to it.

Proceeds from the charge are retained by local authorities and are used for the provision of local services. Based on data provided by the Local Government Management Agency, I am informed that €648,928,091 has been collected to 1 May 2019. This figures is made up of €397,913,800 in charges and €251,014,291 in late payment fees.

Details of NPPR revenue collected since 2013 are set out in the table below.

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 (to 1 May)

€79.75m

€38.60m

€35.74m

€37.95m

€49.12m

€11.90m

Part 12 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 also deals with the collection of undischarged liabilities relating to the NPPR charge. The Act provided for a period from 2 March 2014 to 31 August 2014 during which time no new late penalties were applied to existing liabilities. If payment was not made in full or if settlement terms were not agreed by the end of that period, an additional late payment fee of €120 per liability date applied on 1 September 2014. As the charge applied in each of the years from 2009 to 2013, there were five liability dates – 31 July 2009 and 31 March for each of the years 2010 to 2013. In addition to this late payment fee to be applied per liability date, the entire NPPR liability is then increased by a factor of 50% and frozen; the legislation does not provide for further penalties to apply after this date. Consequently the total five year liability due for property owners who have not discharged their NPPR charge is €7,230.

Under section 77 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014, my Department issued guidance to local authorities concerning matters relating to arrears of the NPPR charge and late payment fees to ensure that a consistent national approach is adopted. The guidelines, which are available at www.housing.gov.ie/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/Administration/FileDownLoad,37899,en.pdf encourage local authorities to take a proactive approach to ensure that any outstanding NPPR liabilities are discharged in the most equitable, efficient and economically beneficial manner and include guidance in respect of dealing with hardship cases. It is expected, in the majority of cases, that local authorities will collect the full NPPR charge liability from owners. In some cases, this may be by means of arrangement by instalment. All non-compliant owners or owners with queries should log on to www.nppr.ie or, alternatively, contact their local authority to discuss any matters they wish to clarify and to make any outstanding payments.

Should an initial claim of hardship be rejected by a local authority, the claimant should also be afforded, if requested, a further appeal to a more senior officer in the local authority. Ultimately, should a subsequent appeal be unsuccessful the complainant should be notified as early as is possible. Claimants should also be informed that if they are still not happy with the determination they can appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman.