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Vacant Properties

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 March 2022

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Questions (202)

Brendan Smith


202. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will ensure adequate funding is allocated to local authorities in 2022 to continue the much-needed housing voids programme in view of the success of the programme in 2020 and 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12063/22]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, including pre-letting repairs to vacant properties, the implementation of a planned maintenance programme and carrying out of responsive repairs, are matters for each individual local authority under Section 58 of the Housing Act 1966.

Since 2014, Exchequer funding has also been provided through my Department's Voids Programme to support local authorities in preparing vacant units for re-letting. This funding was introduced originally to tackle long term vacant units and is now increasingly targeted to support authority's to ensure minimal turnaround and re-let times for vacant stock.

From 2014 to 2021, expenditure of some €261 million was recouped to local authorities under the Voids Programme which funded the return to productive use of 18,527 properties nationwide. Local authorities also provide significant funding from their own resources to address the level of vacancy within the social housing stock.

There has been extensive funding provided particularly over the last two years under the Voids programme which not only catered for standard relets but also for vacant properties requiring more extensive works prior to relet. It is up to each local authority to submit a programme of works based on their individual allocation or targets.

In 2020, €56.4m exchequer funding was provided to bring a total of 3,607 vacant homes back into productive use within the social housing stock. This represents the highest ever yearly spend and the highest number of homes to be refurbished under the voids programme. Within this programme local authorities had the opportunity to remediate long term vacant properties (houses vacant over 12 months) the funding for which was uncapped. Again in 2021, the Voids programme catered for a non-standard refurbishment option which allowed local authorities claim an average of €50,000 funding in this category (no vacancy limit). Full details in relation to output up to and including the 2021 programme is available on the link below.

My Department will continue to support local authorities in their work in this area in 2022. However, as result of the significant investment by the Department in the Voids Programme, local authorities should also now be in a strong position to begin the transition to a strategic and informed planned maintenance approach to stock management and maintenance. To that end, my Department and local authorities are working to transition from a largely response and voids based approach to housing stock management and maintenance, to a planned maintenance approach. This will require the completion of stock condition surveys by all local authorities and the subsequent development of strategic and informed work programmes in response. My Department will support these work programmes by ensuring that the funding available under the various stock improvement programmes is aligned with this approach.