Minister Donohoe welcomes publication of Revenue data on vacant property

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD has welcomed the publication by Revenue of its preliminary analysis of the data on vacancy captured as part of the Local Property Tax (LPT) returns.

Addressing vacancy and dereliction, and maximising the use of the existing housing stock, is a priority objective of the Government. Housing for All includes a specific action for the Department of Finance to collect data on vacancy with a view to introducing a vacant property tax.

Provisions included in the Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) Act 2021 enabled Revenue to collect certain information on vacant properties in the Local Property Tax return forms submitted by residential property owners in respect of the new LPT valuation period 2022-2025.

The preliminary analysis indicates that levels of vacancy amongst LPT liable properties are low across all counties and lie within the range that is considered to be in line with a functioning housing market. The data also indicates that many of the reasons given for vacancy are genuine and acceptable reasons for temporary vacancy, for example, where a property is for sale, between lettings, undergoing refurbishment, where the property is subject to a probate application or other legal proceedings, holiday homes, or in cases where the owner is in long-term care.

In Housing for All, the Government has set out a suite of incentives available to encourage re-use of properties and increase the supply of housing. However, in addition, the Government is committed to exploring options around sanctions for non-use of residential property so that there is some penalty for leaving a property vacant for a prolonged period without a genuine reason at a time where there are pressures in terms of housing supply.

The Revenue analysis provides a basis for the Department of Finance to assess the merits and impact of introducing a Vacant Property Tax, and how best such a tax might be designed. This work has already commenced and the Minister intends to bring forward proposals on a targeted measure that achieves an appropriate balance between incentivising owners of vacant habitable residential properties to bring their properties back into use, and ensuring any such tax does not arbitrarily or excessively penalise home-owners for normal temporary vacancy.

The Government and in particular, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD continues to progress other work strands aimed at maximising the use of existing housing stock. This includes a review of the Derelict Sites legislation, a new programme to help Local Authorities buy or compulsory purchase 2,500 vacant homes in their areas; and the launch of a new Town Centre First policy, designed to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into our town centres.

Another important reform is the new residential zoned land tax introduced in Finance Act 2021 to activate vacant land so as to incentivise greater development for housing.

Commenting on the release of the Revenue preliminary analysis, Minister Donohoe said: “I welcome the publication of Revenue’s Preliminary Vacancy Analysis based on the Local Property Tax returns.

Addressing vacancy and dereliction, and maximising the use of the existing housing stock, is a priority objective of the Government. While both Revenue data and the preliminary Census 2022 data show that vacancy is within a normal range, it is important that the Government acts to ensure all viable housing stock is being used.

This information provides the basis for ongoing work on the merits, impact and design of a tax on vacant residential properties. Further details on this measure will be made available as my officials work out the technicalities of administering a new tax.”