Vacant houses in Limerick should be put to ‘productive use’


by Alan Jacques

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Willie O'Dea is shocked at the amount of vacant housing in Limerick
Willie O’Dea is shocked at the amount of vacant housing in Limerick

FIANNA Fáil claim that new figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request shows there are 141 vacant units across the city and county in local authority ownership despite the growing housing emergency.

Limerick TD Willie O’Dea said it is “shocking” the extent to which local authorities are sitting on vacant housing units rather than putting them into productive use to house the thousands of people on the housing list in Limerick. He feels it is “utterly senseless” to have so many properties lying vacant.

“It is sickening to think that there are a massive number of vacant housing units owned by the local authority sitting idle. This is at a time when thousands of people are on the housing list in Limerick and emergency homeless shelters are running out of space to accommodate the escalating crisis,” Deputy O’Dea told the Limerick Post.

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Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality is now calling on the Minister of Environment, Community and Local Government to put vacant homes to use “rather than making policy-on-the-hoof”.

“These figures make it apparent just how completely inadequate the refurbishment funding allocated to local authorities has been. While there are 141 housing units lying vacant, the Minister made the disastrous decision to cut refurbishment funding available to local authorities. The cut to Limerick City and County Council amounted to €530,469 this year alone.”

However, Limerick City and County Council refuted Deputy O’Dea claims. A spokesman for the local authority said that there are only 30 casual vacancies at present.

“Current performance indicators show an average of 4.3 weeks to re-let these dwellings, which need minor works and upgrades before offering to a households and carrying out pre-tenancy training. Turnkey tenancies are also offered where works are carried out while tenant is in situ,” he explained.

According to the council, the majority of other vacancies relate to major refurbishment works under the Regeneration Programme and the redevelopment of apartment blocks.