Local authorities are well placed to identify and collate information on vacant properties based on a number of sources of information. As part of Housing for All the Government has committed to a rage of actions as part of the pathway to address vacancy and ensure the efficient use of housing stock and this includes ensuring that the Vacant Home Officers based in local authorities are all full-time posts.
To date, each local authority has prepared a Vacant Homes Action Plan for their administrative area. The Vacant Homes Action Plan identifies the scale of vacant homes in their jurisdiction and sets ambitious but realistic targets of the number of vacant homes that can ultimately be brought back into use. As part of this process, the Vacant Homes Office/Officers within each local authority have undertaken initial vacancy assessment exercises (drilling into available vacancy data), and carry out co-ordinating visual inspections / assessment of residential properties in their administrative area, with a view to identifying possible vacant recoverable homes. In this context, among other sources of information, geo-mapping is utilised by many local authorities, with mapping of vacancy is carried out by GIS staff or the Vacant Homes Officer, where resources permit.
My Department does not, however, collate this information centrally, but the broader question of gathering data on vacancy will be considered as part of the implementation of Housing for All. This will include the collection of data on vacancy with a view to introducing a vacant property tax. The Local Property Tax returns in November 2021 will provide a new source of information in this regard.