17 payments made by Limerick council under Vacant Home Scheme ‘disappointing’, says Limerick TD

Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea

THE 17 grants paid out to date by Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) through the Croí Cónaithe scheme, designed to help buyers bring vacant and derelict properties back into use, was a “disappointing” figure, according to one Limerick TD.

Also known as the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, the scheme aims to help home buyers with the cost of refurbishing properties that have been vacant or derelict for over two years.

A maximum of €70,000 is available to people who bring vacant houses back into use either as a family home or to be rented out.

According to figures revealed to the Limerick Post by LCCC,  just 17 grants have been paid out to date since the scheme opened in July 2022.

LCCC has received a total of 331 applications for the scheme, with 207 applications given approval.

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A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said that since the scheme opened “the demand for the grant has been high since the outset and remains so”.

However the council spokesperson noted that “submission of incomplete applications and supporting documentation has been an issue” as regards processing and paying out to applicants.

“This has been improved by Limerick City and County Council with the supply of guidance checklists to our applicants to ensure quality grant applications with the required supporting documentation are submitted by applicants,” the spokesperson explained.

In response to the figures, Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea told the Limerick Post that it is “disappointing” that so few grants have been paid out, adding that the scheme should be made more accessible for people who can’t afford the upfront cost of carrying out works.

“The Vacant Homes Scheme is an excellent initiative designed to support bringing vacant and derelict properties back into use. However, it is disappointing that only 17 grants have been paid out almost two years since the grant was established,” Deupty O’Dea said, calling for the council to “expedite the process of paying out the grant under this scheme”.

The Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant is only payable on completion of the works, something the Limerick City TD said needs to change as it causes a “significant impediment to many people who wish to take on the renovation of a vacant or derelict property”.

“At a minimum, I believe that there should be some mechanism to allow the grant to be paid in stage payments when certain works are completed, as this would require much less funds to be put in place up front.”

The average time for applications to be approved was between two to four weeks, according to the council spokesperson.

The turnaround time for application processing, according to the council, “includes the processing of applications, communicating with applicants around missing items, arranging a first site inspection, and issuing a letter of approval”.