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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Alamy Stock Photo (File Image) A total of 98,171 people are currently on a housing waiting list, nationally.
vacant homes

'Unforgiveable': Over 3,500 council-owned houses are vacant, new figures show

Peader Tóibín said his party believe this is “unforgivable” during a national housing shortage.

LAST UPDATE | Sep 11th 2023, 1:05 PM

THERE ARE CURRENTLY 3,544 vacant council-owned homes across the state while close to 100,000 people remain on housing waiting lists, according to information obtained by Aontú TD Peader Tóibín.

The figures show a large sum of empty properties have been left vacant by all local authorities across the state, with the highest sum of properties left vacant in Dublin City Centre – where the largest number of people are currently on a waiting list.

A total of 712 homes in the Dublin City Council’s ownership remain vacant, while 12,958 people are on the authority’s housing waiting list.

Dublin City Council’s sum is followed by Cork City Council, with a total of 350 empty homes and 4,523 people on waiting lists.

The Meath West TD said his party believe this is “unforgivable”, after publishing these findings today which were provided to him through Freedom of Information requests to every local authority in the country.

Tóibín said: “It is incredible that in the jaws of a national emergency in terms of housing that well over 3,500 local authority homes are lying empty tonight.

“According to Aontú’s findings, there are enough empty local authority homes in the state to house well over half the number of people who are homeless,” he added.

Currently, there is a record-high 12,847 people in emergency accommodation in the state with the majority of them (6,576) in Dublin. Of the cohort in Dublin, 1,347 families are homeless and nearly 3,000 total child dependants.

In a statement to The Journal Dublin City Council broke down their current vacant housing stock. A spokesperson said that 205 out of the 26,889 housing units are currently vacant after being refurbished or are in the allocation process.

The spokesperson added that the remainder of their vacant stock, 519 units, are currently vacant with contractors in the process of refurbishing the properties. According to the local authority, the council refurbishes “about 800 units on an annual basis”.

“Dublin City Council works hard to turn these vacant units around as quickly as possible as we are acutely aware of the existing need for social housing through our engagement with people on the social housing waiting list,” the spokesperson said.

Limerick had the third largest sum of vacant properties, with a total of 228, however Fingal County Council, in Dublin, had the third largest housing waiting list at 6,479 people.

Tóibín believes that there has been “growing dysfunction in some arms of the state when dealing with housing” and said that it is “unacceptable that local authorities nationally are sitting on vacant houses in the teeth of this housing crisis, emergency and disaster”.

Among the information given to the TD was the number of households who are currently in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and in the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).

Over 54,000 people are currently in receipt of th HAP, with the majority – 14,674 – in Dublin City Council. Currently, the average rent in Dublin is priced at €2,344 according to the most recent rent report from

A high number, 10,603, of people were also in the RAS. These two figures, according to Tóibín, show an “continuing reliance on the private sector for the provision of social housing”.

“In many ways this is robbing Peter to pay Paul. HAP and RAS are not additional housing units,” Tóibín said.

“They are homes taken from the private rental sector squeezing that section of the market further. We need new additional social housing units to really increase supply,” he added.

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson for the Department of Housing and Local Government said local authorities will always have a level of vacant homes in their stock, which will fluctuate over time.

The spokesperson said: “The reasons for vacancy can also vary, and may include units which are marked for demolition and major regeneration or earmarked for sale, for example.”

They added that the management and maintenance of council-owned homes is a matter for each local authority however highlighted that the authorities have received “extensive funding” to do so.

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