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WHY SHOULD WE PAY THE PROPERTY TAX FOR THIS?

THIS is the estate where a woman paid €1m for a dream home in a new north Dublin housing estate five years ago.

Marian Gleeson is pictured three years ago on the street with her daughter Ella beside empty houses on an unfinished housing estate.

Today their 'dream' home is still surrounded by 50 vacant houses and their eight-year-old daughter plays in empty gardens with no other children to play with.

Last year, Marian and her husband Frank were exempt from the household charge because their housing estate in Castlemoyne was unfinished.

Now they've been told they will have to pay the property tax like everyone else, leaving the couple angry and frustrated that their 'dream' home has been ensnared in the net.

Ms Gleeson told the Herald she expected the exemption from household charges at Castlemoyne Estate would be followed with a similar exemption from the property tax.

"We've been surrounded by empty homes for almost six years and nothing has changed. I feel we shouldn't even think of paying this new property tax, the way things are," she said.

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"Nothing has changed since we got the household charge waiver. We still have about 50 empty houses around us. My eight-year-old daughter plays in empty gardens because there are hardly any children living close by," she said.

Mr Gleeson said he and his wife will have no option but to pay a tax based on a valuation of 50-70pc of what they paid for the house because of draconian laws hitting non-payers.

"We are not getting the services we paid for. We live in an unfinished estate that is still partly a building site. We shouldn't have to pay a property tax until we've got the services we paid for," he said.

He said it was 'unbelievable' that the only residential development in the entire Dublin region to be exempt from the property tax was the Priory Hall complex.

While a large section of Castlemoyne looks like a normally functioning estate, a significant portion of it is made up of empty homes beside a former building site where a further construction phase was aborted by the developer.

Another home owner living with empty houses all around him in the estate said he should not have to pay the new tax while his view consists of a building site and a heap of rubble.

The young father said: "If Minister Phil Hogan is expecting us to cough up a property tax, he should at least have the decency to explain why we must now lose a waiver when nothing has changed.

"I live beside a building site that is visually terrible. It's inconsistent to decide we should lose our waiver."

Another major issue for householders confronted with the new tax is pyrite contamination.

Homeowners afflicted by bulging and cracking walls and floors told the Herald they have been left in "a quandary" by Minister Hogan and the Department of the Environment.

While pyrite-hit homes will receive a waiver from paying the new tax, the regulations governing who qualifies for the waiver have still not been finalised by the Department.

Jane Ann McBride, whose home is in Moylaragh Crescent, Balbriggan, is badly affected by pyrite.

"Personally, I will not be paying this tax until my home is fixed. And how can we get the waiver from paying it when the Department of the Environment is dragging its feet in coming up with the regulations."

She was responding to a statement by the Revenue Commissioners that waivers will only be given to homes that meet its criteria on what constitutes pyrite contamination.

But a Department of the Environment spokesman conceded that tests on homes could not go ahead under the new standards until the compiling of the regulations was complete.

"The new regulations will be complete as soon as possible, sometime in the near future," said the spokesman.

Ms McBride said her life has been extremely difficult living in a house that continues to suffer ever-widening cracks and bulges in walls, floors and ceilings.

While she will be expected to reply to a property tax demand by May, the inspection process for the awarding of certificates concerning pyrite contamination is not even up and running yet, she said.

Neighbour Elaine Dunne, whose home is also affected, said it is unfair to expect families to pay more than €1,500 to have their homes officially tested to get the necessary certificate.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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