UP to 1,200 Laois homes could be at risk after it has been revealed that almost 11% of mortgages in the county are owned by a person who is unemployed.
According to figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) the number of households occupied by residents in Laois increased by 24.5% from 22,421 in 2006 to 27,916 in 2011.
“This is one of the most needy groups in society. They are leading stressful lives and battling to keep afloat. The fact they’ve no job and possibly haven’t been able to gain employment for two or three years, is affecting their health and their homes are in danger of being taken away,” explained Sinn Féin’s Deputy Brian Stanley.
But worryingly 1,186 of these households are headed by a person who was either unemployed or looking for work, representing 10.6% of all homes with a loan or mortgage.
The number of dwellings that are owned through an existing mortgage or loan stands at 11,219, compared to 9,549 in 2006.
The home ownership rate in Laois in 2011 was 74.4% with a total of 6,720 households (24.1%) living in rented accommodation.
The number of vacant dwellings in the county totalled 4,087 in April 2011, giving a vacancy rate of 12.5%. Of these 3,277 were vacant houses, 661 were vacant apartments and 149 were holiday homes.
Deputy Stanley believes that if vacant unfinished dwellings across the county were completed that it would go a considerable distance towards tackling the housing waiting list.
“Many of these unfinished dwellings are being stripped by thieves. We’ve highlighted this issue at national level and can’t get a discussion on it all. The taxpayer has a substantial stake in NAMA and many developers have long gone over the horizon.”
He added, “There are homes in NAMA being made available to local authorities, essentially one arm of the state leasing to the other. Why can’t the government make arrangements for many of the unfinished homes to be completed as an asset and sell them as part of an affordable housing scheme or at knock down rates? The completion of these homes would also get some people back to work.”
The increase in apartments as an accommodation type continued in 2011 with 1,174 occupied apartments in Laois in 2011, accounting for 4.2% of all occupied households in the county.
The average local authority rent in Laois increased from €41.35 in 2006 to €53.69 in 2011.
In relation to rents paid for private accommodation, households in Laois paid an average of €117.35 per week in 2011, compared to €134.78 in 2006.
A total of 15,718 homes in the county were connected to public sewerage schemes in 2011, representing 56.3% of all households. 10,401 (37.3%) of households used an individual septic tank.
The public mains supplied the drinking water for 64.2% of all households in Laois. A further 8.5% were connected to a local authority group water scheme and 24.3% were connected to a private source (group and other).
Oil was the most popular type of central heating fuel used in the county, heating 47.6% of all homes.