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25 Sept 2022

Laois Greens in Portlaoise and Portarlington say their dereliction plan will be good for community

Laois Greens in Portlaoise and Portarlington say their dereliction  plan will be good for community

Derelict house on Harpur's Lane in Portlaoise

Green Party representatives in Laois have welcomed the ‘Vacancy Dereliction and Regeneration Bill 2022’, launched by the party saying it will be good for the local economy and our communities

Under this Bill, homes that are vacant in for at least 180 days in the preceding year would be subject to a new vacant home tax at 3% of the market value of the property, to be collected by revenue as part of the local property tax. The Greens believe this would be re-paid to the local authority where the vacant property lies, which for example, would fund housing needs.

The tax would not apply to the principal private residence of the owner and includes a number of key exemptions, including if an owner is in care; if the occupant has moved temporarily for work purposes; if the property is a holiday home; or if the property is undergoing major renovations. The Greens say an initiative introduced in Canada has seen a 25% decrease in vacant property since introducing similar tax measures in 2017.

Rosie Palmer is the Green Party representative in the Portlaoise District.

“One of the most critical issues in Ireland at the moment is housing and the cost of living. It is an issue faced by every age group across every part of society. There are at least 90,000 vacant homes across the country and neglected and derelict building can be seen across all of our towns and villages in Laois. This Bill will be good for rural towns and villages, our local economy and our communities,” she said.

John Holland is the Green Party representative for Portarlington.

“I’m delighted to see this bill being introduced. Here in Portarlington, we have a former bank building lying idle and thwarting the efforts of Tidy Towns to improve the appearance of the town. Laois County Council is trying to engage with the owner but legislation like this will greatly strengthen the hand of local authorities in taking action on derelict buildings like this,” he said.

Under this Bill, homes that are vacant in for at least 180 days in the preceding year would be subject to a new vacant home tax at 3% of the market value of the property, to be collected by revenue as part of the local property tax. This would be re-paid to the local authority where the vacant property lies, which for example, would fund housing needs.

The tax would not apply to the principal private residence of the owner and includes a number of key exemptions, including if an owner is in care; if the occupant has moved temporarily for work purposes; if the property is a holiday home; or if the property is undergoing major renovations. An initiative introduced in Vancouver has seen a 25% decrease in vacant property since introducing similar tax measures in 2017.

The Bill was introduced by Steven Matthews TD, Green Party spokesperson on Planning and Local Government

“We need to reimagine our existing built environment to create vibrant, liveable villages and towns that will also bring jobs and enhance security and safety. The Green Party is committed to rejuvenating our towns, villages and cities and ensuring they are fit for purpose for individuals and families to live, work and play.

"In addition to addressing vacant property, this bill also simplifies the planning process and makes it easier for ‘over the shop’ units to be brought back into residential use. This bill is in line with the objectives for the Government Housing for All and Town Centres First strategies,” he said.

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