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100 of the 190 apartments in the 22-storey Capital Dock near Grand Canal Dock in Dublin are lying vacant, it was reported earlier this year. Shutterstock
empty homes

Vacant property tax to be introduced next year in a bid to get empty homes back on the market

Varadkar said it “might be possible” to collect the tax next year.

A VACANT PROPERTY tax will be introduced by government next year, according to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien. 

The government’s new housing plan launched today states that a review of the Local Property Tax returns in November will be carried out, “with a view to introducing a new Vacant Property Tax to ensure empty properties are used”.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said legislation will be brought in next year, with the tax being applied to vacant homes from the end of 2022, with payment collected in 2023.

Varadkar said it “might be possible” to collect the tax next year, but details are still being worked on. 

Discussions around the introduction of such a tax took place in May, when the government scrambled to roll out measures to clip the wings of the investment funds buying up hundreds of properties and locking regular buyers out. 

There has been particular anger at reports that high-end apartment blocks are lying idle, with the Business Post highlighting recently that in midst of a crisis 100 of the 190 apartments in the 22-storey Capital Dock near Grand Canal Dock in Dublin are vacant.

Following such reports, O’Brien said he wanted to target investment funds that have large swathes of apartments lying empty.

Multiples of the LPT

It is understood that such measures under consideration would see a multiple of the Local Property Tax (LPT) for apartments or houses that are left vacant could be used to deter landlords from leaving properties lying idle.

The new tax could see triple or quadruple levels of the Local Property Tax kicking in for houses or apartments that have been vacant for more than six months or 12 months, though the exact period is still under discussion.

When asked why the tax is not being introduced on Budget Day this year, the housing minister said the data on the numbers of vacant properties in Ireland is not very reliable. 

The collection of the latest LPT information will show how many vacant properties there are in the State, why they are vacant and for how long they have been empty.

He stated that current data shows there are at least 9,500 properties are empty due to the owner being in long term care, for instance. However, he said there are many reasons why properties might be left vacant.

“We know it is an issue, this is going to be done, this will be done next year,” he said.

“We don’t don’t want to see any vacant properties. I believe it is immoral for funds or any other owner to leave homes vacant in the middle of a housing crisis,” said O’Brien.

“It is immoral during a housing crisis for anyone to leave a house or apartment vacant for a long period of time. We have to put a stop to that,” said Varadkar. 

He said the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will have the final Bill ready on the new tax by Christmas, but after the Budget, with the Bill being introduced in the first quarter of next year.

The Taoiseach said introducing such a vacant property tax is a “very substantive decision”, adding that a lot of detailed work has to be done.

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