Wednesday 24 May 2017

Over 180k homes left vacant in Ireland, as 7,421 people remain homeless

New housing figures show rents in Dublin up by 30 per cent since 2011

Stock Photo: PA
Stock Photo: PA
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

More than 180,000 homes are currently vacant in Ireland according to new figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) today.

The new housing figures show that 183,312 homes are currently vacant as well as 62,148 holiday homes.

In regards to the 183,312 vacant dwellings, 79,966 were detached houses, 60,154 were semi-detached or terraced dwellings while the remaining 43,192 were apartments.

According to the figures, Cavan (46.4pc) has the most vacant homes followed by Leitrim (45.6pc) and Kerry (43.1pc).

CSO housing profile
CSO housing profile

Among larger towns (population of 10,000 or more) Letterkenny (14.9pc), Longford (14.6pc) and Ballina (14.3pc) ranked highest in terms of vacancy.

Surprisingly, housing growth - which relates to the number of builds- grew by only 0.4pc between 2011 and 2016, with 8,800 new homes.

This is in sharp contrast to the 225, 232 homes built between 2006 and 2011.

These figures come as recent property statics show that housing prices have risen by 11pc per year.

Today's CSO statistics also reveal that almost 10pc of the population are living in accommodation with less that one room per person.

There were 95,013 permanent households with more persons than rooms, according to Census 2016, accommodating close to 10pc of the population, at an average of 4.7 persons per household. This is a 28pc rise on the equivalent number in 2011 (73,997).

The number of people who own houses fell slightly from 69.7pc in 2011 to 67.6pc in 2016.

When examined by age the results show that renting was more common than owning before the age of 35.

Beyond this, more householders owned rather than rented their home. The equivalent age in previous censuses was 32 years in 2011, 28 years in 2006, 27 years in 2002 and 26 years in 1991.

Meanwhile, the average cost of renting in April 2016 was €199.92, up from €171.19 (16.8pc) in 2011. The highest growth in rent was in Dublin City which increased by almost 30pc while rises in excess of 20pc were also recorded in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown (26.2pc), Fingal (22.8pc), South Dublin (22.7pc) and Kildare (20.3pc).

Roughan Mac Namara of Focus Ireland said that action needs to be taken "urgently" on the number of vacant homes.

"We need action to get the vacant homes that are suitable back into the active housing stock as urgently as possible.

"The Government really need to look at introducing stronger measures to encourage property owners to get empty homes back into the active housing stock. This could include a tax on empty homes. There also needs to be stronger action to take account of developers hoarding land as we need to fast-track housing delivery through building as well as not all empty properties will be suitable for use as a home for a number of reasons including standard and location of the property.’"

The most recent government figures for February show a record total of 7,421 people who are homeless in Ireland- a shocking total of 2,546 of these are children.

Focus Ireland said the crisis continues to deepen as huge members of families are still losing their homes and more action is required to prevent this and to also fast-track delivery of housing through a range of measures including getting suitable empty homes back into the active housing stock and providing homes for people.

The Peter McVerry Trust housing and homeless charity said politicians and policymakers need to recognise that empty homes can immediately alleviate the country's housing crisis.

Spokesman Francis Doherty said: "The quickest and most efficient way of making more homes available is to get empty homes back into use.

"Peter McVerry Trust has been identifying and turning around empty properties for the last three years and we know it can be done.

"If the resources are made available it can be delivered on a much larger scale."

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