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Call to use empty units for housing

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Pat Davitt

Pat Davitt

Pat Davitt

An estimated 100,000 vacant homes and units located above businesses across the country could be used to ease housing market pressure, according to a leading property expert.

Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) chief executive Pat Davitt said demand for homes in rural towns and villages will rise with the increased prevalence of working from home.

However, there is little supply of new homes coming on stream to meet this demand.

Mr Davitt suggested Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien should look at utilising vacant units to create additional housing supply. He said unused units above shops would help to alleviate the shortfall. The Central Bank estimates 34,000 new homes are needed annually to meet demand, but completions fell well short of this figure last year at about 20,000. The 34,000 target is expected to be hard to reach for some years.

"We think there are about 100,000 empty liveable spaces above shops and retail premises around the country," he said.

"If spaces above shops were utilised and there was enough money given by the Government so people could live on the main streets by doing up these units, or give planning permission to change some of the shops back to residential use, it would help solve a lot of the issues that are there at the moment."

Dublin City Council is currently drafting a new development plan for the city to help convert more than 4,000 empty spaces above shops into housing between 2022 and 2028.

Mr Davitt said working from home will have a significant impact on Ireland's housing problem, with demand for homes in areas away from major cities likely to increase.

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