The management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, including pre-letting repairs to vacant properties, is a matter for each individual local authority under the Housing Act 1966. Local authorities return vacant properties to use through their own resources, but my Department also continues to provide Exchequer support, under the voids programme, for properties that require significant investment prior to re-letting. In 2018, more than €26 million was provided to local authorities for this purpose.
I recognise that whether a local authority is availing of the voids programme support or is reletting properties through their own resources that there can be challenges depending on the condition of the vacant property and some such properties require very extensive and costly works before they can be safely retenanted. It is better in the long term if these extensive works are completed while the property is vacant. This means that when the property is relet, a new family moves into a high-quality, energy-efficient home.
Unquestionably, local authorities need to complete these upgrades and relet the properties as swiftly as possible. It is important also that this is done to the necessary standard, but without excessive cost. Local authorities need to have a common approach to this work, based on established best practice, which is why I welcome the work that the City and County Management Association, CCMA, is undertaking to identify and implement best practice in respect of housing stock maintenance and repairs across all local authorities. I also believe that councillors can take a strong role in this area, by overseeing the performance of their local authorities in achieving timely relettings and pressing for improvements in this regard, where needed.