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Grants of up to €50,000 to be given to refurbish derelict and vacant regional homes

Grants of up to €50,000 to be given to refurbish derelict and vacant regional homes

Grants of up to €50,000 will be available to first-time buyers and other owner-occupiers willing to refurbish derelict and vacant homes in towns and villages around the country under plans to be unveiled on Thursday.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will announce details of the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund as they also provide an update on progress in the Government’s Housing for All plan.

The Government aims to deliver 300,000 new homes by the end of 2030 under the €4 billion-per-year plan launched in September last year.

Being able to show progress on the plan to tackle the housing crisis will be crucial to the Coalition’s parties’ fortunes in the next general election, due in 2025.

The fund is intended to support home ownership and tackle vacancy in regional towns and villages by directly supporting the refurbishment of empty homes. There are plans for a similar scheme for cities to be announced later this year.

Grants of €30,000 to €50,000 will be available to first-time buyers and other prospective owner occupiers of derelict and vacant properties, such as ‘fresh start’ applicants, to fund their refurbishment.

Costs that are to be covered under the scheme include structural works, roofing, painting, building services and professional fees.

The Irish Times understands that sums on the higher end of the scale will be on offer for properties that are designated by engineers as structurally unsound and the top-up for such properties is due to the higher cost of bringing them back into use.

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The grants may also be combined with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s Better Energy Home Scheme supports, which potentially offer a further €26,750 in support.

To be eligible, properties must have been built before 1993 and have been empty for more than two years. Applications for the grants will be administered by local authorities.

The new scheme is said to be part of a suite of measures aimed at tackling the issue of vacant properties amid the ongoing housing crisis. Other initiatives include the repair-and-lease scheme and the roll-out of full-time vacant property officers in every city and county council.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe last week confirmed that the Government will introduce a vacant property tax in the September budget which is likely to take effect next year.

Mr Donohoe said the Government would introduce a tax on habitable vacant properties. He would not be drawn on the level at which the tax would be levied, but said it was “not intended as a revenue-raising measure” but rather one intended to bring unused properties back into use.

Data published by the Revenue Commissioners last week shows that the number of vacant properties in the State is significantly lower than was suggested by the results of the recent census.

Revenue said 57,206 properties were reported by their owners as being vacant on November 1st last, whereas preliminary figures from the census carried out by the Central Statistics Office in April reported a total of 166,752 vacant homes nationwide.

This number contains many dwellings that may be unoccupied for a relatively short period of time and a home deemed vacant does not necessarily mean a home is available for reuse or to house other people.

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