The appointment of more full-time vacant homes officer positions in Cork County Council will further encourage the refurbishment of vacant and derelict properties in towns and villages across County Cork, a Fine Gael TD said.
Fine Gael TD for Cork East Constituency, David Stanton was speaking after raising the matter with the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Kieran O’Donnell TD.
“During a debate on the uptake of the Croí Cónaithe Vacant Homes Refurbishment Grant, I proposed that an increase in the numbers of Local Authority Vacant Homes Officers would prompt a greater uptake of the grant and the identification and refurbishment of suitable local properties,” Deputy Stanton explained.
“The Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant benefits those who wish to turn a formerly vacant house or building into their principal private residence. The grant is available to eligible vacant properties in rural and urban settings up to a maximum of €30,000 for the refurbishment of vacant properties for occupation as principal private residences, including the conversion of a property that has not previously been used as residential. Where the refurbishment costs are expected to exceed this amount, a maximum top-up grant of €20,000 is available where the property is confirmed to be derelict, bringing the total grant available for a derelict property up to a maximum of €50,000.
“It is arguable that one full-time officer would be needed per municipal district at least to make the scheme effective in County Cork.
“Initial uptake of the grant had seen 84 applications received from Cork County. Local authorities are being asked to apply directly to the Department for additional vacant homes officers. This is a positive step. However, the sole responsibility of these new officers must be to go out into our villages, towns and cities to actively investigate empty buildings, to track down their owners and to assess if these properties can be repurposed. In the midst of a housing crisis, all avenues must be explored, and local authorities must use all resources available to them to do that.”