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Vacant Properties

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 March 2022

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Questions (267, 268)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

267. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of social housing units refurbished under the voids stimulus programme announced in May 2021 in the area covered by Galway City Council; the number of these refurbished social housing units which have been re-let as social homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12170/22]

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Catherine Connolly

Question:

268. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of social housing units refurbished under the voids stimulus programme announced in May 2021 in the area covered by Galway County Council; the number of these refurbished social housing units which have been re-let as social homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12171/22]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 267 and 268 together.

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).

In relation to the announcement in May 2021 it is important to note this was not a stimulus Voids Programme but rather a normal Voids Programme. The Voids stimulus programme was announced in July 2020 and made available to local authorities in recognition of the very challenging financial circumstances which they were experiencing with a very real risk that the vacant homes, which would normally be refurbished by local authorities using their own resources, would be significantly impacted in 2020.

Full details in relation to output of Galway County Council, Galway City Council and all other local authorities is available on the link below.

www.gov.ie/en/collection/0906a-other-local-authority-housing-scheme-statistics/#voids-programme.

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 are aligned with this approach.

It is also of note that Local authorities will always have a level of vacancy in their housing stock. This will fluctuate over time as tenancy surrender and re-letting of dwellings is an ongoing process. Details in relation to the number of voids are not collated by my Department, however, statistics in relation to social housing stock, at a point in time, are published by the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) in their Annual Reports on Performance Indicators in Local Authorities. These reports provide a range of information in relation to social housing stock, including levels of vacancy in local authority owned properties. The most recent report, relating to 2020, is available on the NOAC website at the following link:

noac.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/NOAC-Local-Authority-Performance-Indicator-Report-2020.pdf.

Question No. 268 answered with Question No. 267.
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