Laois and Offaly councils urged to use a scheme to transform thousands of empty buildings into homes

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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Laois and Offaly councils urged to use a scheme to transform thousands of empty buildings into homes

Former hotel on Main Street Portlaoise is owned by Laois County Council and has been in line for renovation for years

Councils in Laois an Offaly should avail of a scheme make use of nearly 5,000 homes across the two counties according to Government TD Charlie Flanagan.

The  Laois/Offaly TD wants the two county councils to make more use of the Repair and Leasing Scheme to supply more housing.

Dep Flanagan was speaking as figures show a low uptake of the Repair and Leasing scheme in some local authority areas and suggested that it could be promoted better.

“This scheme under the Government’s housing plan, Rebuilding Ireland, assists owners in bringing vacant properties back into use as social homes. The last census showed a significant high level of vacant properties across the constituency with 2,583 vacant properties in Laois & 2,252 vacant properties in Offaly.

“Where a property requires repairs to bring it up to the standard for required for rented properties, the Repair and Leasing Scheme will pay for the repairs up-front in return for the property being made available to be used as social housing for a period of at least 5 years under either a direct lease or Rental Availability Arrangement with the local authority.

“Figures show that last year, Offaly was one of 19 local authorities that did not avail of any capital funding under the Repair and Leasing scheme while take-up of the Scheme in Laois was relatively low. 

 “An analysis of the figures shows that some councils performed well under the scheme. Among them was Waterford City and County Council which availed of €1,199,054 in total funding in 2020 for repairs and other work to properties so they could be used for social housing. This amounts to 45% of the total funding drawn down from the scheme for 2020.

“There is definitely scope here for County Councils to utilise the scheme more to avail of funding to bring more social homes into operation," said the TD.