Saturday 24 February 2018

Priory Hall apartment owner hit with €337 levy for home not fit to live in

Louise Hogan and Paul Melia

HOMEOWNERS in an estate classed as "unfit for human habitation" have been hit with property tax bills.

Collection of the controversial tax has descended into farce after a property owner in the notorious Priory Hall development in north Dublin received a bill for €337 from the Revenue Commissioners.

And the Irish Independent has learned that residents living in ghost estates exempt from the charge have also received demands for payment.

Bills have also been sent to people living in homes affected by pyrite – and they will not be able to claim an exemption until the Government publishes guidelines in the coming weeks.

Revenue have so far sent more than 180,000 bills to homeowners who have until May to make returns.

However, the introduction of the tax – aimed at generating €500m a year – has been beset with problems.

An online property guide published in recent weeks was sharply criticised for not giving the correct values by bunching homes with vastly different market values together, which could result in some homeowners paying the wrong tax rate.

And now the owner of a two-bedroom apartment in the notorious Priory Hall complex has been told by Revenue their property is worth between €350,001 and €400,000 – incurring a €675 annual property tax bill, with €337 payable for the six months remaining this year once the tax comes into force in July.

This is despite the unit being bought off the plans back in 2006 for €238,000, and not being safe to live in.

The resident is currently living in accommodation paid for by Dublin City Council following a High Court order. A spokesman for the residents said they were "simply astonished" by the letter.

"The valuation is so outlandish," Graham Usher told the Irish Independent. "Obviously the Revenue's letters are going to have to be an estimation, but €350,000 to €400,000? The apartments are worth absolutely nothing. Dublin City Council threw out a figure over a year ago of a cost of €40,000 to fix each apartment."

Unsafe

Residents in the complex, built by bankrupt developer Tom McFeely, were forced to abandon their homes almost 18 months ago after the council's fire authorities deemed them unsafe to live in.

The 256 owners living in 187 apartments were given just 48 hours to leave.

The Revenue Commissioners said people living in exempt estates should advise them when making their returns, including those living in Priory Hall –who would not have to pay the tax. A spokeswoman added that owners of homes affected by pyrite could also claim an exemption.

In a separate development, the department said just over 5,000 homeowners living in ghost estates will be exempt from the property tax.

It is a sharp fall in the number of homes exempt from the €100 household charge introduced last year, where 43,000 households – did not have to pay.

This is because essential works including pavements, street lighting, sewer systems and green spaces, have been completed, meaning they are no longer considered "unfinished".

Environment Minister Phil Hogan said the reduced number of waivers came because progress had been made to tackling ghost estates.

He added that people should check the list of exempt estates before making their returns.

Irish Independent

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