Paul Melia: State needs to convince owners to put vacant properties to good use
Why are so many homes empty at a time of a national housing crisis? While the number of vacant houses and apartments has fallen by more than 30,000 over the past five years, the fact that one in 10 is lying empty points to systemic problems in how housing stock is managed.
Housing Agency chief executive John O'Connor makes the point that many are empty due to legal and financial disputes between banks, receivers and borrowers. But there are other reasons too.
Utilising properties left vacant by people entering a nursing home is problematic. In many cases, people don't feel it's worth the trouble of renting the property because 80pc of the income will go to the State to make up the cost of nursing home fees. Probate can take a long time, particularly if people have died without making a will. In other cases, a commercial property may have apartments attached but they're not used. State properties are not always utilised - an example is eight apartments owned by the Office of Public Works on Clare Lane in Dublin which the Housing Agency refurbished, and which are now used by the Peter McVerry Trust.