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Vacant property owners urged to sign up for major social housing scheme

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Local authorities are urging the owners of vacant properties who cannot access the funding needed to bring them up to rental standard, to sign up to a major restoration scheme.

The initiative is bringing dwellings to life and delivering social housing units across the country.

Eddie Corrigan said a three-bed cottage at Dooriel in Ballycroy, Co Mayo, which he inherited from his grandmother two decades ago, would have fallen asunder without the Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS), which has seen it renovated and rented to a local family by Mayo County Council.

The national scheme allows property owners to sign up by way of lease for between five and 25 years with the local authority – the cost of repairs is recovered from the property owner by offsetting them against the lease payment.

The owner leases it to the local authority at the current market rate, less an administration charge. The formerly vacant homes are then used by local authorities for social housing.

Subject to the suitability of a property for social housing, the cost of the necessary repairs can be met upfront by the local authority. Property owners are guaranteed an upgrade on the house or apartment and rental income. Owners who believe their homes could be used for social housing should contact their local authority.

Vacanthomes.ie, a web portal developed by Mayo County Council, on behalf of the local government sector, offers a user-friendly way for members of the public across the country to notify local authorities of vacant homes which may be suitable for social housing. 

According to Mr Corrigan, apart from providing much-needed housing, bringing vacant homes back into use can help rejuvenate areas in decline.

“I was worried I would just have to let the house fall asunder,” said Mr Corrigan, who lives between Listowel and London. “There are so many vacant properties falling into decline, which just need a bit of tender loving care at a time when there is a housing shortage.”

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