Thursday, 24th August 2017
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New research conducted by Peter McVerry Trust, the homeless and housing charity, shows that 62% of people are in favour of a tax on empty homes. The charity, which has had a long running campaign on empty homes, derelict sites and underused spaces is now urging the Government to bring forward legislation to introduce an empty homes tax in Ireland.

Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, said “Peter McVerry Trust welcomes the results of the poll which shows 62% of people, a clear majority, are in favour of an empty homes tax being applied.”

“We strongly believe in the merits of an empty homes tax because it will encourage the owners of empty homes to either take up existing grant schemes or place their properties on the market. Ultimately, an empty homes tax will result in an increased number of homes to rent, to buy and to be used for social housing.”

“At Peter McVerry Trust we see empty homes as having enormous potential in tackling homelessness. Bringing empty homes back into use means we can get individuals and couples out of homelessness quicker and reduce the need for emergency accommodation.”

“Peter McVerry Trust has been working to get empty buildings back into use as homes for 3 years now and during that time we have delivered over 50 homes for people exiting homelessness. We have a pipeline of double that number over the next 3 years and we see enormous potential in these buildings. We can turn these empty homes around, quickly, cheaply and to very high standards. We would urge the Government to include an empty homes tax in new empty homes strategy because it will help maximise the huge potential that exists to increase housing supply in high need areas.”

Calculating an Empty Homes Tax

Speaking on how the empty tax would be calculated Mr Doyle said “There are number of different empty homes tax models in use internationally. In the UK it is based on the council tax rates. For example in Scotland over half the local authorities apply the maximum levy on empty homes meaning the council tax applied to an empty home is double that compared with an occupied home.”

“If we used that the Local Property Tax in Ireland bands as basis for taxing empty homes and applied a 100% levy on empty homes we estimate that in Dublin such a tax could raise almost €18 million per year and if ring-fenced would fund the renovations of over 440 homes per year.”

“The Vancouver model, which applies a tax on empty homes of 1% of the property’s value would generate almost €54 million per year in Dublin and fund the renovation works of 1,300 properties each year.”

Clarification could lead to increased levels of support

Concluding Mr Doyle said “We feel that public support for an empty homes tax will actually increase significantly once an agreed set of criteria was set out clarifying just exemptions from such a tax. For example our proposal would not apply to a person’s main dwelling or home nor would it apply to buildings in probate or in the process of renovation.

The research was conducted by Ireland Thinks.

The survey was a random sample of 1,200 people conducted during the period 27th February – 3rd

The question put to the people surveyed “Would you support a tax on houses that have been vacant for at least one year?

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