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Housing Crisis

Almost one in 20 dwellings in Ireland were vacant in last three months of 2021

Leitrim was the Local Authority with the highest vacancy rate at 10.6% in Q4 2021, while South Dublin had the lowest at 1.%.

THE NATIONAL VACANCY rate for dwellings was 4.3% in the last three months of 2021, according to newly released CSO data based on metered electricity consumption.

In Dublin, 2.3% of dwellings in Quarter 4 of 2021 were vacant, compared with 5.1% in the rest of Ireland.

Swinford in Mayo was the Local Electoral Area (LEA) with the highest percentage of vacant dwellings in Q4 2021 (12.2%), while the lowest was in Leixlip, Kildare and Tallaght Central, Dublin (both 0.7%).

Leitrim was the Local Authority with the highest vacancy rate at 10.6% in Q4 2021, followed by Roscommon (9.5%) and Mayo (8.7%). The lowest vacancy rates were in South Dublin (1.4%), Fingal (1.9%) and Kildare (1.9%).

Nationally, vacancy rates have fallen from 4.9% at the start of the series in Q1 of 2016 to 4.3% in Q4 2021. In Dublin, there has been a small rise from 1.9% to 2.3% over this time. 

Quarterly electricity consumption per Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN), expressed in kilowatt hours (kWh), was supplied by ESB Networks to the CSO.

The report defined a dwelling as vacant if it has very little or no electricity consumption over four consecutive quarters (a period of 12 months).

This definition identifies vacancy over a period of time and is different from definitions of vacancy which are based on ‘point in time’, for example Census 2022 or LPT analysis published by Revenue.

 Justin Anderson, a statistician with the Central Statistics Office told RTÉ’s News at One:

“It’s based on an average of two kilowatt hours per day, which is about the usage of a fridge. So the idea is that anyone using less than a fridge isn’t really occupying a dwelling.”

“If someone stays in a holiday home for a whole month in July, that is recorded and not counted as vacant,” he said.

The vacancy rate for rural areas (7.5%) was more than double the rate in urban areas (2.9%) in Q4 2021.

The vacancy rate for apartments was 3.7% in Q4 2021, 3.2% for detached houses, 2.9% for terraced houses, and 1.8% for semi-detached houses.

Analysis of building types was only available for dwellings with a Building Energy Rating (BER) and while close to one in five (19.2%) vacant dwellings in Q4 2021 with BER assessments were constructed prior to 1919.

More than four in ten (41.7%) vacant dwellings in Q4 2021 were built prior to 1960.

Social Democrats Housing Spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan said that today’s findings showed a wasteful use of property during a housing crisis.

“A vacancy rate of 4.3% represents tens of thousands of homes lying empty while 11,632 people are living in emergency homeless accommodation.

“The figures released today provide a conservative estimate of the levels of vacancy. The CSO only counted vacant homes that have an active ESB connection, which many empty properties don’t have.

“The Government’s new Vacant Homes Tax is far too weak to act as a real disincentive to speculators sitting on empty homes. At just 0.3% of the value of the property, this captures only a small fraction of rising house price,” he said. 

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